Feds see red over Manitoba’s green plan
HE federal Liberals are bracing for a battle with Manitoba over its recently released green plan, which will fall behind Ottawa’s targets in 2020.
“Manitoba’s approach is good for the first two years,” federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna told reporters Monday. “After that, they will have to go up.”
Last Friday, Premier Brian Pallister said his government would impose a flat $25 tax per tonne of carbon starting next year and not changing through to 2022.
That diverges from the federal plan, which calls for a carbon price of at least $10 per tonne in 2018, and rising
Tby $10 each year to reach $50 per tonne in 2022. The province has asked the feds to hold off on enforcing those annual levies until a 2022 review. Pallister predicts his Climate and Green Plan will reduce greenhouse gases more than the federal targets.
The federal government says it will enforce those targets on provinces that go rogue, presuming the federal Liberals are re-elected in 2019. With a provincial vote in 2020, that would mean newly re-elected Liberals waging a war on Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives in the run up to a provincial vote.
On Friday, provincial Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires will discuss the plan with McKenna at a Vancouver meeting of environment ministers. She said Manitoba is focused on achieving “meaningful reductions in carbon emissions,” not raising taxes.
“We believe that Manitobans will decide what Manitoba will do,” she said when asked about the prospect of Ottawa dictating future terms of a carbon-pricing plan.
Squires deflected a question on whether she is concerned Manitoba taxpayers might face the worst of both worlds — pay a higher upfront tax now and still have to cough up $50 a tonne within five years.
“We’re focused on reducing carbon emissions and moving towards that low-carbon economy. And if Ottawa is fixated on taxes, that’s their agenda,” she responded.
ELLING someone to jump in the lake isn’t always complimentary, but it was for father and daughter Shaun and Jaida Thompson.
To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, the Pinawa residents set out on a mission to jump into a lake for 150 consecutive days, starting May 23.
They jumped off docks, they jumped off cliffs, they jumped off boats. They jumped off a half-dozen different public docks along the Winnipeg River and also into Whiteshell lakes such as Otter Falls and Nutimik, as well as Sylvan Lake in Alberta when they visited family there.
They jumped in 2 C temperatures, they jumped in gale-force winds and chest-high whitecaps, they jumped at
TProvincial Opposition Leader Wab Kinew said he remains concerned the provincial government has not revealed its plans for how revenues from a carbon tax would be spent. The province should ensure revenues go to address climate change while lending a hand to low-income Manitobans who would find it challenging to pay the increased tax, he said.
The NDP leader reiterated concerns that, under Pallister’s watch, Manitobans will be facing years of high hydroelectric rate increases that will provide no incentives for them to make environmentally sustainable choices.
It’s a prospect Conservative environment critic Ed Fast laments.
“The province of Manitoba has been forced to impose a carbon tax because of the heavy-handed approach of (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau,” said the Vancouver-area MP. “You can’t tax your way to a clean environment.”
Fast would not comment about the Manitoba plan, but said the Tories would cancel Ottawa’s levy if elected. The Conservatives have proposed matching Canada’s targets to those followed by major emitters such as China and the United States and investing in climate-change adaptation for the North.
Elmwood-Transcona MP Daniel Blaikie said the NDP isn’t impressed midnight after a day away in Winnipeg and they jumped at 5 a.m. because they were catching a plane that day.
“We would get home late and realize we hadn’t done our jumps yet and we would have to go,” said Shaun. “It became kind of obsessive.”
They didn’t miss a single day, but on occasion, the 43-year-old dad begged his daughter — age 11 when they began and 12 when they finished — to call off the mission.
“My dad would be like a baby,” said Jaida.
Said Shaun: “At the end, I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ My daughter was like,’You’re being a chicken.’”
They did cannonballs, cartwheels, dove head first and even did backflips to change it up.
Shaun, a graphic artist, photographed
by the federal Liberals chasing a target similar to the government of Stephen Harper and noted the green plan is lacking concrete targets.
“In the Manitoba context, it’s shaping up to be a bit of a fake debate. You’ve got two governments, neither of which have a real plan,” Blaikie said, noting both plans are posturing if they don’t steer the levy revenues to directly cut down on carbon emissions.
“We’re not going to reduce greenhouses gas emissions through inertia.”
Pallister’s plan came only after an expert legal opinion said Ottawa was within its rights to impose a carbon tax on provinces that didn’t do it themselves. Saskatchewan’s outgoing premier is still holding out on a carbon tax, and some Atlantic provinces haven’t specified how they intend to meet that target.
Earlier this month, the environment commissioner said Canada is on track to once again miss an international emissions target by a long shot for the fifth time since 1992. An audit found most federal departments also don’t have plans in place to deal with how climate change would affect federally owned bridges, roads and airports.
The commissioner will start measuring the effectiveness of the federal carbon levy once it comes into effect. all their jumps and videotaped some.
There were two rules: you had to jump in and get your head wet and you had to jump in twice each time.
“Anyone can jump in once, but to do it twice” means you’re committed — or should be committed, Shaun said. Both said those second jumps were always the coldest — and they came to dread them.
But some days in September and October it almost felt warm when they got out of the water because it was warmer than the air. “You’d get out and you wouldn’t even be cold,” said Shaun.
October proved to be the toughest month. A few people had begun to gather for their jumps. Most days temperatures were in the single digits when they jumped because they couldn’t do them until dusk, after Jaida returned from school and Shaun finished work.
Jaida said she sometimes had trouble breathing when she hit the cold water. Shaun said it would make his head hurt.
It didn’t get easier with their final day, Oct. 19, in sight. “Those last few days were super-cold. It felt like every day the water was a degree colder,” said Shaun.
Jaida took to wearing her parka over her bathing suit. They live two blocks from the water and would often bicycle there.
“On the second- or third-last day, we had hurricane-like winds. That day was insane. It was almost scary. But my daughter was like: ‘You’re a chicken. I can’t believe you’re going to back out.’”
When they reached their final jump, the temperature was a balmy 12 C, but there was a cold wind gusting to 50 km/h. A small crowd gathered and cheered them on. There was applause.
Jaida said it felt good to meet their goal and she’s just glad they finished before the Alberta clipper blanketed Manitoba in slush and snow on Thursday. Because they would have had to jump.
According to Shaun, there are few things as quintessentially Canadian as jumping into frigid lakes.
The family moved to Pinawa from Winnipeg in 2003 to be closer to nature.
“We love the outdoors. We do lots of camping and hiking and kayaking,” he said. “In summer, (we) will just get in a kayak and go an pick an island and camp there, just to kind of unwind from the world.”
Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires: ‘meaningful reductions’
Shaun Thompson and his daughter Jaida jumped into a lake for 150 consecutive days to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. They started May 23 and completed their mission Oct. 19. They jumped off docks, cliffs and boats.