Premiers aligned against carbon policy
Ontario supports Saskatchewan in case against feds
ST. ANDREWS, N.B. • Ontario Premier Doug Ford joined forces with his Saskatchewan counterpart Thursday, saying his province will intervene in the western province’s court case against Ottawa’s carbon pricing policy.
Ford and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe both voiced their opposition to the contentious federal plan, prior to the start of two days of formal talks between Canada’s premiers at the Council of the Federation meeting in St. Andrews, N.B.
“I’m here to gather support among my provincial counterparts against the federal carbon tax,” Ford said Thursday outside the historic Algonquin Resort.
“Ontario will support Saskatchewan in intervening in the reference case they have launched with the (Saskatchewan) Court of Appeal.”
Ford, who made the announcement after a bilateral meeting with Moe late Wednesday, said both provinces are on “the exact same page” and Ontario will use every tool at its disposal to challenge a tax he says is bad for families and businesses.
Keith Stewart, a strategist with Greenpeace Canada, issued a statement soon after condemning the positions.
“Extreme weather fuelled by global warming is already hurting families and businesses right across the country and will get a lot worse if our elected officials ignore the threat,” he said in an email. “Attacking carbon pricing without an alternative plan to address climate change is nothing less than an unprovoked attack on our kids’ future.”
Ford’s newly elected government is scrapping the province’s cap-and-trade program. A federally imposed carbon price would start at $20 per tonne and increase to a level of $50 a tonne by 2022.
Moe said a one-size-fitsall carbon tax fails to recognize the diverse nature of the Canadian economy.
“This made-in-Ottawa carbon tax plan finds our nation now in this position,” Moe said. “We have two provinces in compliance, we have two provinces in court and we have the rest of the country not meeting the federal carbon tax backstop. Today we’re grateful that the people of Ontario ... will join us every step of the way.”
Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said Ford’s government shouldn’t be using tax dollars on a costly court challenge.
“It’s disappointing Ontario is spending $30 million of taxpayer money on fighting climate leadership,” McKenna said Thursday. “Our government has a plan to protect the environment and grow the economy and it’s working.”
New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant was asked whether Ford and Moe’s declaration would prove a distraction to talks about freer international and internal trade. “It’s never going to be a distraction to discuss this very important and also very complex subject,” said Gallant.
Nova Scotia’s Stephen McNeil was asked about the lack of consensus among many of the provinces about how to deal with carbon pricing.
“We are looking forward to implementing our own internal cap and trade system, which will continue to reduce greenhouse gases while at the same time protecting the pocketbooks of Nova Scotians,” he said.
WE HAVE TWO PROVINCES IN COMPLIANCE ... TWO (ARE) IN COURT.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe in St. Andrews, N.B., on Thursday.