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Manitoba Premier Says Ottawa Needs to Have Leeway on Carbon Pricing

October 13, 2022 7:01 AM | The Canadian Press


By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

Heather Stefanson

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson speaks to the media at a press conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Tuesday, January 18, 2022. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski)

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson says she is not planning legislation to push back against the federal government over areas of jurisdiction, as Alberta and Saskatchewan are planning.

Stefanson says she is worried to some extent about Ottawa reaching into provincial areas, but she could not name an example and says there has been no discussion yet about such legislation in the province.

Stefanson says one area where she would like to see change from the federal government is on carbon pricing.

A Federal Court judge ruled last year that Ottawa had the right to impose a backstop price on carbon in Manitoba, when the province refused to impose one of its own that met federal demands.

Stefanson announced, shortly after becoming premier, that Manitoba would not appeal that ruling and would instead try to work collaboratively with the federal government.

She says, so far, Ottawa has shown no sign of backing down from its minimum price requirements.

“We thought by not … appealing that decision, that it would offer some goodwill and that we could actually sit down and have a discussion,” Stefanson said Wednesday.

“That didn’t take place. They just imposed the backstop.”

The office of Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault said Manitoba has not submitted any alternative to the backstop, despite being given an opportunity this year.

“If the Government of Manitoba wanted to have a system designed by them, they could have submitted their proposal, but we received nothing,” a written statement from Guilbeault’s office read.

“Pricing pollution is a national system that works best when there is a level playing field with the same standards applied in each province.”

Last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Stefanson and some other premiers of being dishonest about carbon pricing.

The price is added on to gasoline, natural gas and other fossil fuels. The money collected is returned — 90 per cent through personal income tax rebate cheques and 10 per cent via investments to help businesses and communities reduce their carbon footprint.

Trudeau said in Manitoba the average family is receiving more in rebates than it has paid out. At the time, Stefanson and some other premiers were calling for a suspension of the carbon tax to help people fight inflation.

The federal price started in 2019 at $20 a tonne and is set to rise to $170 a tonne by 2030.

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