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B.C. agrees to national climate plan at first ministers’ meeting

WATCH ABOVE: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces deal on climate change known as the Pan Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change.

OTTAWA – Some last-minute megaphone diplomacy by B.C. Premier Christy Clark appears to have secured a deal on a pan-Canadian climate plan – but Saskatchewan remains outside the fold.

Moments after Clark emerged from a first ministers meeting with Justin Trudeau to publicly kneecap the prime minister’s signature climate plan, word emerged of a compromise.

READ MORE: Pan-Canadian climate plan announced without Saskatchewan, Manitoba

Trudeau had unilaterally imposed an escalating floor price on carbon dioxide emissions, starting at $10 in 2018 and topping out at $50 in 2022, when the policy would be reassessed.

Under the compromise deal, the carbon price would pause at B.C.’s existing $30 level in 2020, when an independent expert panel will look at how the plan is evolving.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has already touted a “historic agreement” that includes 10 provinces and territories and three indigenous groups.

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B.C.’s addition made it 11, with Saskatchewan clearly offside and Manitoba’s position not immediately clear.

WATCH: Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall explains why his province is reluctant to sign on to a framework for climate change deal. Wall says he’s going to defend the interests of his province.
Click to play video: 'Brad Wall explains why Saskatchewan didn’t sign climate change deal' Brad Wall explains why Saskatchewan didn’t sign climate change deal
Brad Wall explains why Saskatchewan didn’t sign climate change deal – Dec 9, 2016

READ MORE: National climate policy plan moving along despite concerns from provinces

It was a sudden and surprising about-face from Clark, who less than an hour earlier had was telling reporters that the talks were grinding along slowly, that the matter was hard slogging and that an agreement appeared a long way off.

Indeed, before talks even began, it was Clark herself who shoved a hockey stick in the Liberal spokes, citing the unresolved matter of comparing Quebec and Ontario’s cap-and-trade carbon market to a national floor price proposed for other provinces.

“It’s got to be a fair deal. And you have to have one price for all Canadians if it’s going to be a national price,” Clark – who faces the B.C. electorate in a May election – said earlier in the day.

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WATCH: BC Premier Christy Clark says that some late changes to the framework for climate change allowed her province to sign on to the deal.
Click to play video: 'Late changes to climate deal allowed BC to sign on' Late changes to climate deal allowed BC to sign on
Late changes to climate deal allowed BC to sign on – Dec 9, 2016

The Prime Minister’s Office pointed to a Sept. 26 Facebook post on carbon pricing by the B.C. premier which breezily observed that “others may choose a broad-based cap-and-trade system – and that’s fine.”

READ MORE: Assembly of First Nations wants Constitution to recognize them as order of government

The aggressive provincial positioning as the meeting got underway was met with polite federal obstinacy.

“We’ve been very clear that carbon pricing is part of the plan,” federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said in a mid-afternoon scrum with reporters.

Wall has already flatly stated he won’t sign the proffered agreement and Clark was suggesting it might be prudent to “set aside clauses.”

Pressed on whether a deal would emerge, McKenna insisted one would – repeatedly calling it a “historic day.”

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“This is a framework. ..,” the federal minister responded when asked what happens if some provinces won’t sign on.

“Then we need to implement. We need to take real action.”

WATCH: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister discusses why his province isn’t part of the pan-Canadian framework for climate change deal.
Click to play video: '‘We are clearly not yet’: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister explains why they’re not part of climate deal' ‘We are clearly not yet’: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister explains why they’re not part of climate deal
‘We are clearly not yet’: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister explains why they’re not part of climate deal – Dec 9, 2016

 

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