Saskatchewan’s only MP in the current Liberal government is explaining and defending the prime minister’s announcement of a carbon pricing plan last week.
The Prime Minister announced a national minimum price on carbon in the House of Commons last week, which would require provinces to either have their own plan in place by 2018 or abide by the federal price – provinces could also implement a cap-and-trade system, which Quebec already has.
This rubbed a lot of people in Saskatchewan the wrong way, with Premier Brad Wall calling it disrespectful, a betrayal, and saying it will hurt Saskatchewan’s economy. Wall also said he’ll be looking at his legal options.
Speaking on Gormley just a few days later, Regina-Wascana MP Ralph Goodale explained that under the plan, the money collected would stay in the province and the government could decide what to do with it.
“If there’s a mechanism available that would allow the Saskatchewan government to eliminate personal income tax, the provincial personal income tax, that would be a constructive thing for the economy of Saskatchewan. But it would be up to Saskatchewan to make that decision.”
Goodale noted B.C. has had a carbon tax since 2008 and has used the revenue to reduce taxes, created special programs, and has also exempted farm fuel from the tax.
Addressing Wall’s concerns about a carbon tax’s impact on the economy, Goodale again pointed to B.C., saying that province has managed to slow the increase of carbon output with its tax and hasn’t compromised the provincial economy.
Goodale said the best thing would be for Saskatchewan to design its own plan, but if the province won’t then the federal government will do it.
“The plan here will work best when everybody can get back to having a serious, sensible conversation about how to achieve both objectives – meeting the challenge of climate change and at the same time meeting the challenge of building a steadily growing economy.”
Part of the frustration Wall expressed in his letter about the announcement was that it was made at the same time provincial environment ministers were meeting about a climate change plan.
Goodale said those meetings didn’t seem to be going anywhere.
“The Prime Minister tries his very best to get along with everybody. At the end of the day, the Prime Minister has the responsibility to shoulder the national obligations, and it’s not possible for a Prime Minister to satisfy everybody all at the same time. But he works very hard to arrive at a consensus on every single issue that he possibly can.”
When asked about how the announcement might create challenges for the Liberal party in Saskatchewan, Goodale, who has more than 20 years of experience as an MP under his belt, said he understands that and has dealt with it his whole career.
Nova Scotia’s premier has also come out against a carbon tax.