Environmentalists and provincial politicians are weighing in following word from premier Blaine Higgs that he would look at creating a “made-in-New Brunswick” carbon tax plan.
Higgs decision came after the results of Monday’s federal election, which Higgs said was a clear indication that voters had chosen to embrace a tax on carbon.
The province is currently operating under a federal backstop which, among other things, resulted in a four cent per litre hike on gasoline when it was implemented. It also includes a tax rebate
People’s Alliance of New Brunswick Party Leader Kris Austin says he still isn’t convinced a tax is necessary but says whatever is implemented should be made to limit the impact on the average New Brunswicker.
“When you look at the carbon tax as a whole or any tax, you want to go after the ones who are polluting,” said Austin.
“[The] average Joe driving their vehicle to work I don’t think necessarily fits that category.”
New Brunswick’s Liberal Party rejected a carbon plan while it was in government.
But the province’s official Opposition says it now feels that some sort of carbon tax is unavoidable, but that public considerations must be made.
“We also have to be very sensitive to choices that people have,” said Liberal environment critic Cathy Rogers. “For example, you can’t take public transit as an option if you live in a rural area and it’s just not available.”
The Green Party would like to see a model similar to one being used in PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador which avoided taxing heating oil.
Green Leader David Coon says that any tax on carbon needs to be effective.
Some environmentalists say the federal backstop is working well in New Brunswick and that a new solution could mean something less than what the federal government wants.
“Either the federal plan or the New Brunswick version of that which should be the same,” said Dr. Louise Comeau, consultant for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.
“Plus the regulations and other incentives. It’s a whole climate plan we have in the province that we’re not implementing.”
Premier Blaine Higgs hasn’t provide a date on when a new, made-in-New Brunswick plan will be ready to submit to Ottawa.
The government is still waiting to hear back on a plan it submitted several months ago.