Edmonton Journal

PM hits back over carbon tax complaints


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pushing back against premiers who are asking him to cancel an upcoming increase to the federal carbon tax, saying they have not proposed better ideas to fight climate change.

In a reply to the seven provincial leaders on Tuesday, Trudeau said the last time they discussed the issue in 2022, their government­s either didn't propose alternativ­e solutions or couldn't meet federal standards for reducing emissions.

“We have made it clear that we are open to working with any and all provinces and territorie­s that want to establish their own pricing systems (as long as they meet or exceed the national benchmark),” the letter said.

The premiers of Alberta, Saskatchew­an, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundla­nd and Labrador all asked Trudeau to forgo a planned increase on April 1.

The carbon tax is set to increase by $15 a tonne — to $80 from $65. The increase is expected to add about three cents to the cost of a litre of gasoline.

The leaders cite inflation and a high cost of living as reasons to slow down. Most have also requested to testify before a House of Commons committee on the matter, with Saskatchew­an Premier Scott Moe set to appear by video conference on Wednesday.

Trudeau said in his letter that it's critical to dispel the “misconcept­ion” that Canada's carbon tax system is a significan­t driver of inflation, as there are many factors at play.

“According to the Bank of Canada, the carbon price is only responsibl­e for about 0.1 percentage points of annual inflation,” he stated.

He said his government remains open to working with provinces that provide a “credible system” for carbon taxation, so long as it meets the federal standards.

“We continue to remain open to proposals for credible systems that price pollution that reflect the unique realities of your regions and meet the national benchmark.”

Trudeau's push against premiers is just the latest chapter in the years-long battle with conservati­ve leaders over climate policy.

That policy has fallen under pressure in recent months, as affordabil­ity concerns drive the political agenda and Conservati­ve Leader Pierre Poilievre's relentless campaigns.

Poilievre has been drumming up support for months, hosting rallies and pledges to “axe the tax” should Conservati­ves form the next government.

Trudeau and his ministers have slammed Poilievre for peddling slogans without providing his own plan to tackle climate change.

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