Feds should step back on Car­bon Tax, Moe


Last week, the An­gus Reid In­sti­tute pub­lished a new na­tional pub­lic opin­ion poll in­di­cat­ing that seven out of 10 Cana­di­ans be­lieve the Gov­ern­ment of Saskatchewan was right to chal­lenge the Trudeau car­bon tax in court, while two thirds of Cana­di­ans be­lieve it should be the prov­inces - not Ottawa - that de­ter­mine the ap­pro­pri­ate path to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions.

Two weeks ago, Ontario Premier Doug Ford an­nounced that Ontario would sup­port Saskatchewan’s le­gal chal­lenge of the Trudeau car­bon tax by seek­ing in­ter­venor sta­tus in our gov­ern­ment’s ref­er­ence case at the Saskatchewan Court of Ap­peal.

In declar­ing his sup­port for Saskatchewan, Premier Ford was un­equiv­o­cal, stat­ing that Ontario would use ev­ery sin­gle tool at its dis­posal to chal­lenge a car­bon tax that would make life un­af­ford­able for fam­i­lies and put thou­sands of jobs at risk.

Three weeks ago, Prince Edward Is­land con­firmed it is pre­par­ing a cli­mate ac­tion plan that does not in­clude a car­bon tax or a cap and trade sys­tem.

PEI En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Richard Brown said: “If the ob­jec­tive is to re­duce car­bon in the air, and we have a plan to do that, then why do we need a tax?”

No doubt other prov­inces are ask­ing the same ques­tion, as Ottawa’s Septem­ber 1 dead­line for car­bon pric­ing pro­pos­als ap­proaches.

So this is the sit­u­a­tion we find our na­tion in:

• Two or per­haps three prov­inces are in com­pli­ance with the fed­eral car­bon pric­ing plan

• Two prov­inces are chal­leng­ing the plan in court

• And a num­ber of the re­main­ing prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries will not be in com­pli­ance come Septem­ber.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment would be well ad­vised to take a step back to re­assess and con­sider the with­drawal of its one-size-fits-all car­bon tax and adopt a more col­le­gial ap­proach to ad­dress­ing cli­mate change.

This was the ap­proach Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau es­poused in March 2016 when he met with Canada’s Pre­miers in Van­cou­ver to dis­cuss cli­mate change.

In Van­cou­ver, the Prime Min­is­ter de­clared a will­ing­ness to work with the Pre­miers “in the spirit of co­op­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion”.

Soon af­ter­ward, Ottawa uni­lat­er­ally im­posed a car­bon tax, in a be­trayal of those warm sen­ti­ments.

It’s time the fed­eral gov­ern­ment stepped back and took an­other look at what the prov­inces are ac­tu­ally do­ing to com­bat cli­mate change.

In Saskatchewan, we have re­leased a cli­mate change plan – Prairie Re­silience – that will lead to a real re­duc­tion in green­house gas emis­sions with­out a car­bon tax that would cost our prov­ince’s en­ergy in­ten­sive, ex­port-ori­ented econ­omy $4 bil­lion over five years.

In Saskatchewan, we are in the process of dou­bling our re­new­able power to 50 per cent of our elec­tri­cal gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity, in part by work­ing with First Na­tions on in­no­va­tive projects.

We have in­vested more than a bil­lion dol­lars in the world’s first com­mer­cial power plant with a fully in­te­grated post com­bus­tion car­bon cap­ture sys­tem – the Bound­ary Dam 3 project (BD3).

BD3 has cap­tured more than two mil­lion tonnes of car­bon diox­ide – the equiv­a­lent of tak­ing 500,000 cars off the road.

Car­bon cap­ture and stor­age (CCS) has been iden­ti­fied as a cru­cial tech­nol­ogy to re­duce emis­sions by the United Na­tions, the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency and a num­ber of en­vi­ron­men­tal groups. Saskatchewan is a world leader in ad­vanc­ing this im­por­tant tech­nol­ogy. This should be rec­og­nized by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

We are de­vis­ing an off­set sys­tem that will rec­og­nize our prov­ince as a car­bon sink and a re­search leader in agri­cul­ture.

Car­bon in­ten­sity in agri­cul­ture has been re­duced in part be­cause of re­search un­der­taken in our prov­ince, in ge­net­ics, agron­omy, and in zero till tech­nol­ogy that se­questers car­bon in the soil.

In Saskatchewan, we man­u­fac­ture air drills and ex­port them to Rus­sia, Kaza­khstan, through­out Europe, the United States and Aus­tralia.

These Saskatchewan-made air drills are re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions around the world.

At home, more than 70 per cent of our land is cul­ti­vated us­ing zero till tech­nol­ogy.

Mean­while, the pro­duc­tion of pulse crops in Saskatchewan has soared, from 400,000 acres in 1990 to six mil­lion acres to­day.

We are one of the world’s lead­ing ex­porters of lentils, peas and chick­peas, crops that fix ni­tro­gen, use less fer­til­izer, and there­fore have a lower car­bon foot­print.

Saskatchewan’s agri­cul­tural soils are an enor­mous car­bon sink, se­ques­ter­ing mil­lions of tonnes of CO2 ev­ery year.

This, too, should be rec­og­nized by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

As should the mil­lions of tonnes of emis­sions off­set by Saskatchewan ura­nium used to pro­duce nu­clear power in the United States and Asia.

Saskatchewan in­dus­tries – Cana­dian in­dus­tries – are more en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble and op­er­ate more sus­tain­ably than many of their com­peti­tors around the world.

If we re­ally want to lower emis­sions, we should en­cour­age Cana­di­ans to pur­chase sus­tain­ably-pro­duced Cana­dian prod­ucts.

And we should give the prov­inces the free­dom to de­velop cli­mate change po­lices that ac­tu­ally work, with­out a fed­eral car­bon tax.

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