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Constitution gives Ottawa right to impose carbon price on provinces: McKenna

19 May 2017, 11:41 | Terri Saunders

Constitution gives Ottawa right to impose carbon price on provinces: McKenna

Constitution gives Ottawa right to impose carbon price on provinces: McKenna

He said the province would be taking the federal government to court.

"But let me be absolutely clear that it is well within the federal government's right to take action to protect the environment".

Carbon tax supporters like to call the levy "revenue neutral" and Trudeau has insisted that all taxes collected will go back to the province of origin and McKenna reiterated that point on Thursday; however, she would not clarify whether that meant the revenue will be returned to provincial governments or used by the federal government for its own purposes.

"This federal government white paper is frankly more like a ransom note", he said in Regina.

Right after announcing the potential merger of Alberta's Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties, Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney took aim at Ottawa, saying that he would be willing to sue the federal government if it tries to impose a carbon tax on his oil-rich province.

The premier did credit McKenna for acknowledging Saskatchewan based innovations including the Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) facility at Boundary Dam Three near Estevan, Sask., zero-till farming methods and ongoing research at the province's universities.

There was concern that a national carbon tax starting at $10 per tonne next year and rising to $50 per tonne by 2022 could undercut the refinery's competitiveness. She is looking at rebates to individuals and businesses which would bypass provincial governments completely.

Wall has already suggested that he is prepared to take the federal government to court in order to not comply with the carbon tax demand.

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Kenney criticized Alberta's ruling NDP party, saying that almost 70 per cent of Albertans are opposed to its provincial carbon tax plan. "The reality of our economy is that we are trade exposed", he said.

Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec already have plans which McKenna's office deems sufficient to meet Ottawa's requirements up to 2020. Those that haven't done so by next spring will be subject to a federally imposed carbon tax. He said it's frustrating so much attention is focused on the carbon tax when no government anywhere has implemented a carbon price high enough to cut emissions as much as they need to be cut.

The technical paper says every $10 levy per tonne of emissions will add 2.33 cents to a litre of gas and 1.96 cents to each cubic metre of natural gas.

The levy on emissions from industrial facilities will not start before January 2, 2019, and will only apply to facilities that emit more than 50 kilotonnes or more of greenhouse gases per year.

All of that assumes no behavioural changes such as driving less, buying a more fuel-efficient auto or upgrading home insulation and windows.

BC's emissions did fall in the first few years after the carbon tax was introduced, however they have crept back up in recent years, a fact many experts blame on the fact the carbon tax hasn't risen since 2012.

The decision by Ottawa to at least partially shield emissions of manufacturers from carbon taxes will allow New Brunswick to do the same if it develops its own plan. He said Saskatchewan isn't against doing its part to help fight climate change, but thinks plans such as eliminating coal-fired electricity plants and investing in clean technology are the answer, not new taxes.



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