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Nova Scotia minister voices concern over federal carbon tax in letter to Ottawa

Click to play video: 'Ottawa considering two options to cut oil, gas emissions' Ottawa considering two options to cut oil, gas emissions
As Canada faces pressure to meet its climate goals, the federal government has now begun consultations on two possible ways to reduce oil and gas emissions: a cap and trade system or a modified carbon tax. And as Abigail Bimman explains, there are still plenty of questions about how either strategy would work – Jul 18, 2022

Nova Scotia’s environment minister has sent a letter to his federal counterpart voicing concerns about a carbon tax while the cost of living continues to rise.

In the letter to federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, dated July 5, Tim Halman stresses that a new tax at this time will “have severe, negative ramifications without a clear view of any benefits.”

Halman, who released the letter on Thursday, says the federal carbon tax could see an additional 14.4 cents added to the cost of gasoline in Nova Scotia starting April 1, 2023.

Read more: Taxpayers group says federal carbon tax weighs heavy on Canadians

He told reporters Friday that his government’s desire is to work with Ottawa to find an approach that works for his province, including collaborating to build up offshore wind development, to harness power from the Bay of Fundy and to develop green hydrogen options.

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Halman’s department is working on a new environmental plan but has remained mum on whether it will opt for a carbon tax.

The province currently operates its own cap-and-trade program for large industrial emitters that has been in place since 2019.

Whatever is decided, the province will have to comply with new federal requirements beginning in 2023 that will increase the price of carbon in six months by $15 per tonne, and then again every year until it hits $170 per tonne in 2030.

Read more: Nova Scotia mum on new carbon tax 6 months before federal increase kicks in

“It’s my hope these conversations can continue with the federal government,” Halman said. “What we have articulated here is an opinion on the federal carbon tax … given the most inflationary times since the 1970s, it is not an appropriate tool to be used at this time.”

He said the province has other options aside from the carbon tax including sticking with cap-and-trade or going with a hybrid of the two models.

Liberal Leader Zach Churchill dismissed the government’s letter, saying it didn’t constitute action on the climate front.

“It says very clearly to me that they do not have a plan, we don’t even know if they have any options that they are looking at, and that they are flying by the seat of their pants on this issue,” said Churchill.

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NDP Leader Claudia Chender said the move is “political posturing.”

“We’ve known about this (federal) deadline, we have the opportunity to have a made-in-Nova Scotia solution, we’ve been asking what the plan is and we’ve gotten no information,” Chender said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2022.

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