Canadian Manufacturing

Saskatchewan signals warmer feelings to Ottawa over environment

Dustin Duncan met with federal counterpart Jonathan Wilkinson on Thursday in Regina

December 20, 2019  The Canadian Press

REGINA—Saskatchewan’s environment minister is signalling a warming of feelings towards Ottawa despite disagreement over the federal carbon tax.

Dustin Duncan met with federal counterpart Jonathan Wilkinson on Thursday in Regina, where they discussed issues including carbon pricing and possible collaborations on future carbon capture and storage technology projects.

“This is probably the most jovial I have felt after meeting with a minister of environment for some time,” Duncan later told reporters.

“I took away from the meeting a willingness for the minister to want to work with Saskatchewan and work with the rest of the provinces, and that certainly is a change in tone from what we had seen in the past.”

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Wilkinson said despite what some people think, Ottawa and Saskatchewan do share areas of common interest.

He said he’s also open to the province’s suggestions on the implementation of federal legislation that overhauls energy project reviews. Duncan said Wilkinson seemed willing to revisit a previous decision to exclude Saskatchewan from automatically receiving $62 million in federal money, because it didn’t sign onto a framework to support carbon pricing.

Duncan said he was advised by Premier Scott Moe to strike a good working relationship with Wilkinson. He said he asked the minister what the federal government intends to do to the carbon tax rate beyond 2022.

Wilkinson reiterated that a review will have been done by then to determine whether to increase the carbon price beyond $50 a tonne.

“I’m not going to opine on what may happen in 2022, but we’re certainly looking at all of the available options to try and figure out what’s going to be most effective and most efficient,” said Wilkinson.

Ottawa will look at what needs to happen to meet its targets in addressing climate change and will consult with the provinces, he said.

Duncan said Wilkinson’s remarks are a departure from those by former environment minister Catherine McKenna, who said in June that the price would not go up beyond $50 a tonne in 2022.