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Feds to impose carbon tax

January 16, 2018 9:58 am


Despite the objections of Saskatchewan and some other provinces, every Canadian province will soon see some form of carbon tax trickling through its economy as the federal government pushed ahead with detailed plans for a country-wide carbon price on Monday.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and Finance Minister Bill Morneau released the government’s carbon tax framework and a draft of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act for public comment.

The legislation includes new charges on consumer fuels such as gasoline, diesel, propane and natural gas.

It would also set an emissions limit for industrial facilities such as oil and gas projects, pulp and paper mills, chemicals facilities, cement plants, mines, fertilizer facilities and steel mills.

Any facility that emits more than its limit will need to pay, and those that emit less could be eligible for carbon credits that could be sold to bigger polluters.

The government is also considering ways to apply carbon taxes to the offshore oil and gas sector and to electricity generation. The release said the government may eventually extend the tax to other sectors of the economy.

Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec have all implemented carbon pricing systems that satisfy the federal government’s requirements but Ottawa could impose the new set of rules on other provinces — such as Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces — unless they develop their own carbon tax system by September.

For provinces that don’t develop their own carbon tax or don’t adopt the federal plan, the legislation would allow Ottawa to directly disburse carbon rebates to residents of those provinces, bypassing provincial governments, in a move that is likely to escalate tensions with Saskatchewan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated that the carbon tax rebates would be directed toward lower income individuals who he said are more vulnerable and less able to adjust to the tax.

Morneau described the carbon tax system as positive for middle-class jobs — something that has been hotly contested in Alberta, where carbon taxes rose this month, and in Saskatchewan, where the government has vowed not to implement a carbon tax.

“To help Canadians succeed today and in the economy of tomorrow, we are making long-term investments to grow the economy in a way that ensures good jobs, healthy communities and clean air and water,” Morneau said in the release.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said in a video released last week that his province would not adopt a price for carbon.

“Our government’s made-in-Saskatchewan climate change plan does not include a carbon tax,” he said. “We’re going to stand up for this province, and that means no carbon tax,” he said. Wall did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

The federal government said it intends to implement the federal backstop in whole or in part on January 1, 2019 in any province and territory that does not have a carbon pricing system that meets the benchmark.

“In order to minimize uncertainty for residents, businesses and investors, once the backstop goes into effect in a jurisdiction, we intend to keep it in effect until at least 2022,” according to a statement.


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