By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s Opposition New Democrats said Thursday they plan to delay the province’s proposed carbon tax law which will add just over five cents a litre to the cost of gasoline and drive up the cost other fuels.
The Progressive Conservative government has introduced a bill to enact the tax on Sept. 1, and NDP Leader Wab Kinew said his party will not let the bill become law until sometime after the fall sitting of the legislature begins Oct. 3.
“They’re asking Manitobans to pay about $300 more a year, but they’re not offering any programs or any assistance that are going to actually help people transition to a lower-carbon lifestyle,” Kinew said following a speech to the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.
The tax will add $25 per tonne to the cost of gasoline and make diesel, natural gas and propane more expensive. The government has said it will use much of the $250 million in new revenue to cut income and sales taxes to compensate for the higher energy costs.
Kinew said the government should instead use the carbon tax money primarily to support people and companies who want to adopt energy-efficient technology.
Kinew also said he would be comfortable with a $50 per tonne carbon tax — an amount pushed by the federal government but rejected by Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.
“At the current levels being debated — $25 to $50 — I’m not opposed to either one. What really matters is what happens with those revenues and what goes back out the door to help people transition (to lower emissions.)”
Legislature rules allow the Opposition to choose up to five bills each spring to be held over until the fall. Kinew admitted the government could try to enact the tax on Sept. 1 before the bill passes, or lump it in with another bill, but said the ball is in the premier’s court.
“If Pallister wants to start charging a carbon tax right away, without having the legislation in place to do so, then let him make that argument to Manitobans.”