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Newfoundland Premier calls for federal-provincial meeting on “carbon tax”

Photo: Paul Daly The Canadian Press The Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Andrew Furey, during the presentation of the province's budget on March 21.

Stephanie Taylor – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

7:05 p.m.

  • Canada

Most provincial premiers prefer to complain and “take political advantage” of the federal carbon pricing program rather than present a viable alternative to reduce emissions, said Justin Trudeau on Monday, as his government ignored calls to scrap the most recent annual increase.

Trudeau made the comments after Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey wrote a letter Sunday urging him to “urgently” convene a federal-provincial meeting, a last-minute effort by provinces to prevent the annual increase that came into force on Monday.

Mr. Furey, a Liberal, is one of seven provincial premiers – the others are Conservative – who asked Mr. Trudeau to abandon the $15 per tonne annual increase in the carbon pricing rate, which came into effect Monday. April.

Several of the country's conservative prime ministers have long opposed carbon pricing, but they now believe that the rising cost of living that is hitting Canadians should encourage Ottawa to at least forego this annual increase in the rate. .

Manitoba's NDP Premier Wab Kinew also confirmed last week that he was preparing an exemption request for his province.

But Trudeau says the increase will also mean bigger rebates, which families should receive starting April 15, to offset the higher cost of fuel. He also states that the premiers of the provinces have not proposed alternatives to this measure.

“All these prime ministers who are busy complaining about the price on pollution, but who are not proposing other concrete solutions that would be better for their communities, they are just playing politics,” he said at a press conference on Monday in Toronto.

In his letter to Mr. Trudeau, shared on social networks, Mr. Furey defends the measures taken so far by his province to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The threat of climate change is pressing,” he admits. There is broad consensus that decarbonization is imperative; there is no longer any serious counter-argument. The only question is how, at present, this can best be achieved. »

Mr. Furey argues that the federal government will need to make a “bigger strategic investment” if it hopes to have “a significant impact” on Canada's carbon emissions.

Moe calls to get rid of Trudeau

In the days leading up to Monday's annual increase, the four prime ministers of the Atlantic provinces and those of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario had all asked Mr. Trudeau to re-evaluate the annual increase of 15 $ of the federal carbon pricing rate, which increased Monday to $80 per ton of emissions.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who testified last week before a parliamentary committee about his opposition to the increase, wrote on social media the only way to prevent future increases is to change the government in Ottawa.

Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has already challenged Mr. Trudeau to make such pricing the “ballot box issue.” The next federal election must take place no later than October 20, 2025.

Mr. Poilievre has also spent the last month organizing rallies across the country under the slogan “Axe the tax” – a slogan which in French becomes “Reduce taxes”.

Federal pricing does not apply to Quebec, which has a cap-and-trade system for emissions rights (“carbon stock market”) which is considered equivalent by Ottawa. Federal pricing also does not apply in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, which have their own pricing, very similar to Ottawa's measure.

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Speaking to reporters Monday, ahead of a planned rally in Nanaimo, B.C., Poilievre promised a future Conservative government would “reduce emissions and costs” with a different approach in environmental matters. “[Mr. Trudeau’s] approach is tax, mine is technology,” he said.

Although Mr. Poilievre has promised to “remove the tax,” he has been less clear about his intention to change pricing for large industrial emitters.

Demonstrations Monday

Protesters gathered in several cities across the country on Monday, echoing Mr. Poilievre's call to “remove the tax.”

Around noon, dozens of protesters gathered on Parliament Hill, some holding signs reading “Axe the tax” or insults against the prime minister, while others draped themselves in clothing. 'unifoliate.

This protest, organized by a group called Nationwide Protest Against Carbon Tax, was one of 15 events held across the country.

Protests also took place at various interprovincial borders. Protesters temporarily blocked part of the Trans-Canada Highway linking Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as well as Saskatchewan and Alberta.

In Alberta, horns blared along the Trans-Canada Highway west of Calgary on Monday as protests against the rate hike taking effect slowed traffic.

Newfoundland Premier calls for federal-provincial meeting on “carbon tax”

Photo: Jeff McIntosh The Canadian Press Anti-carbon tax protesters partially blocked the Trans-Canada Highway near Cochrane, Alberta, on Monday.

Albertans were hit with another hike on Monday as the provincial government fully reinstated its fuel tax, meaning an increase of four cents per litre. The tax of 13 cents per liter was suspended for all of 2023 and then partially reinstated last January.

“I'm here because our country is falling apart and our government is crushing us and it just has to stop,” veteran Gary Lambert of Innisfail said on the side of the highway. “It’s not just about abolishing the tax: it’s about freedoms. This is about our right to freedom of expression. »

Change the name of the discount

Mr. Trudeau and other supporters of carbon pricing say opponents overlook the fact that Canadian families receive quarterly rebate checks, more generous for lower-income households, to help them offset the initial hike.

They also highlight the very real costs of climate change to Canadians due to disasters such as wildfires or floods.

Last week, some 200 economists and academics from across the country published an open letter defending carbon pricing as the cheapest way to reduce emissions, as opposed to imposing more regulations strict.

The Liberal Party of Canada circulated a petition on social networks on Monday accusing Mr. Poilievre of wanting to “eliminate” these checks, which vary from $760 to nearly $1,800 per year, according to the place of residence.

Mr. Trudeau last week accused Conservative prime ministers of lying about the policy's impact on inflation and challenged his provincial critics to come up with other proposals to reduce emissions.

For months, he and his ministers have struggled to find support for the policy, implemented in 2019, as Canadians find themselves paying higher prices for food and housing, and as Mr. Poilievre leads a vigorous campaign against the “carbon tax”.

In an effort to build popular support for the measure, the federal government in February renamed the “Climate Action Incentive Payment” to the “Canadian Carbon Rebate.” .

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116