Trudeau, McKenna to announce compensation for federal carbon plan

Christopher Davidson
October 24, 2018

"Saskatchewan will continue to fight the carbon tax and this new Liberal vote-buying scheme".

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched a push to convince citizens of the value of his government's upcoming carbon tax today with a promise to give rebates directly to residents of provinces that aren't bringing in their own tax.

"I don't see provincial premiers as opponents, I see them as partners", Trudeau said when a reporter asked if Ford - whose rumoured national ambitions are already sparking chatter - is now his biggest political adversary.

In these provinces the federal "backstop" carbon tax-starting at $20 a tonne in 2019 and up to $50 per excess tonne by 2022-is being applied.

The federal government will take some of the sting out of its upcoming carbon tax Tuesday with a promise to give rebates directly to Canadians.

"The vast majority of families are receiving more money back from this incentive than they pay in extra costs for the price we're putting on pollution", the prime minister told the radio station 1310 News. Nunavut and the Yukon both chose to use the federal system and therefore they also will get to decide how to use the revenues.

Most studies suggest that to be effective, a carbon tax has to reach $200 to $400 a year by the middle of this century, said Mark Jaccard, a professor of sustainable energy in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University in B.C. Details of that program are not yet available.

In the first year Canadians in the four provinces with the federal tax will receive their first full rebates after filing their 2018 tax return. The amount will be based on the number of adults and children in a household.

It's estimated the average household payment in Saskatchewan will be $598.

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"On the contrary, we recognize that there is an imperative to put a price on pollution and an imperative to help Canadian families adjust to the new reality of a society - of a country - in which pollution is no longer free", he said when asked if he was buying votes. That system sets emissions caps by industry, and businesses will only pay the carbon tax on the amount they emit over the limit for their specific field. He said the rebate system introduced Tuesday could reignite anger within the small business community that came as a result of Finance Minister Bill Morneau's small business tax changes previous year, which effectively raised taxes on high-wealth individuals and kicked off a political uproar.

Carbon pricing is expected to be a key campaign issue, with the federal Conservatives pushing heavily against a carbon tax and insisting they would eliminate it entirely if they form government.

Tuesday's climate announcement comes as Trudeau tries to sell Canadians on the idea of fighting pollution without hitting them in the pocketbook.

"Will we kick this can down the road yet again to be dealt with in another place or at another time or will we show some courage and do what needs to be done for this generation and the next", he said.

Ford moved to end Ontario's cap-and-trade program in July on the grounds it was a "cash grab" that did nothing for the environment.

Revenues from the carbon tax on industrial-sized emitters are separate from the revenues outlined in Ottawa's plan on Tuesday, which instead applies to consumers. "In contrast, the carbon tax rip-off is forever".

"The question for conservative politicians is if they do not want to act, who do they expect to act in their stead?"

Ottawa announced two years ago it would require every province to have a price on emissions, and that it would impose one on those who refused. The current requirement is for it to be $20 a tonne by January 1, rising $10 each year until it hits $50 a tonne in 2022.

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