May 18, 2017 3:49 pm
Updated: May 18, 2017 7:46 pm

Sask. premier describes federal carbon tax plan as a ‘ransom note’

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Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna unveiled plans for a federally imposed carbon tax Thursday morning.

The price will be $10 per tonne of CO2 for any jurisdiction that has not developed their own carbon pricing strategy as early as next spring.

McKenna said every penny raised by the federal carbon price will be returned to the province it came from. The plan is to give it directly back to individuals and businesses through tax rebates.

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READ MORE: It’s not a carbon tax, it’s a ‘behaviour-changing measure’: government officials

Provinces that enact their own carbon pricing plan can choose how to spend the collected revenue.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall remains staunchly opposed to the carbon tax, saying it would remove $1.3 billion from the provincial economy.

“This federal government white paper is more like a ransom note,” he said.

READ MORE: Environment Minister Scott Moe says Saskatchewan will never allow a carbon tax

Wall stood by previous arguments, that a price on carbon will disproportionately affect key Saskatchewan industries like mining and agriculture.

“Even if fuel tax is exempt [for agriculture] it will still impact fertilizer, inputs and transportation,” Wall said.

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.

However, Wall still believes investment in innovations like CCS should be seen as an alternative to a carbon tax.

Wall said the provincial government still plans to take legal action against the federal government.

READ MORE: Brad Wall criticizes attempt to link carbon tax with equalization payments

McKenna said Ottawa has the authority to impose a carbon tax on the province because protecting the environment is federal jurisdiction.

Officials from McKenna’s office added that this is not a tax in the traditional sense, because it is not intended to raise revenue for the federal government. Instead its goal is to change behavior when it comes to pollution.

READ MORE: Energy CEOs discuss Alberta’s carbon tax as Sask. continues to voice opposition

Saskatchewan has its own carbon tax framework that would target heavy emitters, and collected revenue would go toward an innovation fund. It was developed in 2009, but has not been implemented.

When asked by a reporter if Wall would sooner implement this plan or a forced federal carbon price, his response was simple.

“We’re going to win in court,” Wall said.

With files from the Canadian Press

More to come…

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