Premier Brad Wall still has a long list of questions for the federal government regarding its plan to impose a carbon tax on the provinces.
Article by D.C Fraser
The federal plan will put a price on carbon emissions, starting in 2018 at $10 a tonne before the price rises to $50 in 2022.
Many of Wall’s questions focus on whether or not the feds are truly aware the impact such a plan will have on Saskatchewan’s economy.
A federal-provincial working group report studying carbon pricing mechanisms says that implementing carbon pricing “will create a period of transition where some firms will need to change production processes and some individuals may need to change employment” and that competition concerns will be created, meaning, “Canadian firms may face pressure to reduce domestic production, or shift production/investment to a country that has not yet priced carbon at a comparable level.”
Saskatchewan, with a signifcant number of resource and energy companies, is home to many of those firms that could face such issues.
On Wednesday, Wall compared the forced implementation of a carbon tax to a doctor prescribing a medicine without knowing what the side effects are, because no economic assessment plan has been done on the impacts of the tax.
“They certainly can’t tell Saskatchewan people what the side effects are,” he said.
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said in a statement that carbon pricing, “is the most efficient way to drive innovation, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and give businesses the incentive they need to create new, sustainable middle class jobs.”
She added that the federal government knows each province’s economic reality is different.
“That’s why each province has the flexibility to choose the carbon pricing system that works best for them and to use the revenues where they need it most, be it through tax cuts, incentives for business, or support for specific sectors,” read the statement.
Wall said he wasn’t sure if his own government’s carbon pricing plan, which would see heavy emitters in the province pay a levy, would even count under the federal plan.
“I don’t know the answer” he said, later suggesting he isn’t sure if the federal government had all of its ducks in a row before making its carbon pricing announcement.
Saskatchewan passed legislation that would see heavy emitters pay more than a decade ago, but the law has never been enforced.
Wall again put forward that idea in a white paper, which was presented earlier this month.
On Monday, he suggested the timing for a heavy emission levy wouldn’t be right until at least all the jobs that have been lost in Saskatchewan’s resource sector are recovered.
Mckenna, in her statement, said that, “as shown in the provincial “White Paper on Climate Change”, there’s a lot of common ground among all levels of government with respect to technology and adaptation.”
She pointed to the common ground being present when it comes to technology and adaptation, but not carbon pricing.
The federal minister also said, “our Government has been having constructive climate change discussions with Saskatchewan for over 6 months on several fronts.”
Wall said he was “not aware of them.”
He said there “have been discussions” but questioned how meaningful or constructive they were given the federal government’s plan to unilaterally impose a price on carbon without Saskatchewan’s consent.
Read more at: leaderpost.com