Manitoba and federal government heading to war over carbon tax

Published: October 30, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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The Government of Manitoba risked the wrath of the federal government as the two draw nearer to a political spat of the carbon pricing. On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will force Manitoba into a carbon tax if it has to.

“There will be a federal backstop and if any province doesn’t move forward in an appropriate way, the federal government will ensure that the equivalent price on carbon is applied to the specific jurisdiction,” Trudeau said in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, just east of Montreal.

“We will respect what Canadians asked us to do and show the leadership on protecting the environment and growing the economy that all Canadians expect of us.”

Trudeau pointed out that any carbon tax funds the central government collects in Manitoba will be redirected back into investments within the province.

However, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is singing to a different tune. He announced he will clash with federal demand and will introduce his own carbon tax of $25 per tonne in 2018 and will keep it at rate. That would defy Trudeau’s demands of implementing a cap-and-trade system, or a tax starting at $10 a tonne in 2018 and increasing to $50 a tonne by 2022.  

Pallister has been clear the he is willing to start a political conflict with the federal government and accused Ottawa of being intimidating:

“If Manitobans are favourable to our plan, I think it will be difficult for Ottawa to invoke theirs on our province,” Pallister said.

Trudeau has not faced these issues in most other provinces, which have mostly all agreed to the tax. Saskatchewan is another notable rebel and is threatening not to implement any tax at all.