Catherine McKenna, Ontario environment minister trade barbs in carbon tax spat
The forecast for relations between Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and her Ontario counterpart looks like there’s little chance of “sunny ways.”
Instead, storm clouds are on the horizon after the two traded barbs following a meeting in Toronto, earlier Wednesday morning.
McKenna is in Toronto and southwestern Ontario on Wednesday and Thursday for a series of meetings with stakeholders about climate and environmental issues, and it appears one of those meetings was with her newly-appointed provincial counterpart, Rod Phillips.
At 9:17 a.m., McKenna tweeted a photo of their meeting.
In her caption, she said the two had discussed “the national plan to tackle climate & create good jobs.”
Her post did not criticize or mention the fact that the new provincial government has indicated it will back out of the plan to put a price on carbon.
Minutes later, Phillips posted his own tweet blasting the plan, which has been a considerable source of tension with the new Ontario government under Premier Doug Ford.
“I made it clear in my meeting this morning with @cathmckenna that Ontario will never accept the Trudeau Carbon Tax,” he wrote in a caption to his photo, in which both ministers appeared to wear serious expressions.
Three hours later, McKenna issued a formal statement in response.
“Today I met with my Ontario counterpart, Minister Rod Phillips. I’m disappointed to see the new government in Ontario has no plan to help families, schools and businesses reduce emissions, save money and create good jobs. Climate change doesn’t stop with a change in government,” she said.
“Our government has a plan to protect the environment and grow the economy and it’s working. We are reducing pollution and our economy is growing, with half a million full-time jobs added in two years. We will continue to work with all Canadians to protect the environment, grow the economy, and create good middle-class jobs.”
WATCH BELOW: Ontario throne speech: Ford government committed to scrapping carbon tax
Ottawa has demanded the provinces come up with their own plan to put a price on greenhouse-gas emissions or face being forced to do so under the national plan.
Kathleen Wynne, the former Ontario Liberal premier, had put a cap-and-trade system in place.
Ford, however, has already begun the process of dismantling that and vowed to fight Ottawa’s efforts to impose a national plan.
WATCH BELOW: Doug Ford says his first act as Premier will be to scrap the carbon tax
Earlier this month, McKenna said she is reviewing the $420 million set to go to the provincial government under the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund.
She later confirmed that money has not yet been allocated to the province in light of its insistence on scrapping the plan.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instead said that money could go directly to taxpayers in Ontario and sidestep the provincial government.
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