Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blindsided not just provincial environment ministers but also premiers (and perhaps Canadians) by announcing a national carbon tax scheme that must be implemented by 2018.
Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall released an emotionally-charged statement yesterday outlining how detrimental the carbon tax platform will be to Saskatchewan’s economy and the cost to individual families. Wall estimates a carbon tax will suck $2.5 billion out of the Saskatchewan economy, and the farming sector will be one of the hardest hit.
“Saskatchewan industries will feel the impact. So, too, will Saskatchewan families. We estimate the carbon tax will cost the average family $1,250 a year. Our farm families will be among the hardest hit. The carbon tax will impede Saskatchewan’s continuing efforts to export high quality food products to global customers,” says Wall in his statement.
Perhaps the biggest point Wall makes is this: Economic super powers, such as China, contribute far more to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally, but have far fewer, if any, environmental restrictions. Any carbon- or GHG-mitigating scheme must be global in scope, or we risk simply shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.
“As I have said many times before, we are having the wrong conversation in Canada,” says Wall. “The national focus on carbon pricing holds the lowest potential for reducing emissions, while potentially doing the greatest harm to the Canadian economy. We produce less than two percent of global GHG emissions. Whatever impact the federal carbon tax will have on Canada’s emissions, global GHG emissions will continue to rise because of the developing world’s reliance on coal-fired electricity.”
Wall says that instead of an economy-crushing tax, Canada should be focused on developing and investing in solutions in areas “like power production, transportation, natural resource development, manufacturing and construction” that can be adopted around the world.
Alberta premier Rachel Notley says her government supports the principle of having a common price on carbon emissions, but pushed back against Trudeau’s proposal, saying the federal government needs to act on building a pipeline to tidewater.
“Alberta will not be supporting this proposal absent serious concurrent progress on energy infrastructure, to ensure we have the economic means to fund these policies,” she says. “It is time for the Government of Canada to act on this issue. Albertans have contributed very generously for many years to national initiatives designed to help other regions address economic challenges. What we are asking for now is that our landlock be broken, in one direction or another, so that we can get back on our feet.”
Trudeau announced the carbon tax scheme in the House of Commons while provincial environment ministers were meeting in Montreal. Ministers from Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland walked out after the unexpected announcement.