Organizations join forces to protest carbon tax

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Manitoba small business gave Premier Brian Pallister his marching orders Thursday morning — there will be no carbon tax in Manitoba.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/07/2017 (1902 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba small business gave Premier Brian Pallister his marching orders Thursday morning — there will be no carbon tax in Manitoba.

And small business would be even happier if Pallister joined Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s court action to challenge the federal government’s right to impose a carbon tax on provinces.

Pallister has refused to agree to Ottawa’s terms so far, opting for an as-yet-undetermined made-in-Manitoba solution to climate change.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Todd MacKay (front centre) and Jonathan Alward (from left), Jim Karahalios and Gunter Jochum were on hand for the protest Thursday afternoon on the steps of the legislature.

“A carbon tax is bad policy. Manitobans don’t want a carbon tax,” Canadian Taxpayers Federation prairie director Todd MacKay told reporters Thursday during a press conference at the Manitoba legislature featuring several organizations opposed to the proposed federal tax.

Carbon taxes take money out of the pockets of businesses that would have paid for innovations to protect the environment, said Jonathan Alward, Manitoba director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“It’s going to be damaging to the Manitoba economy, to Manitoba jobs,” Alward said.

Sustainable Development Minister Cathy Cox quickly responded Thursday, telling the groups they need to support the province to find the best solution, and that they should be assured a plan is coming.

“This group and others taking a similar stance need to come to the realization that no action on climate change is not an option. To be clear — the prime minister has stated that a carbon tax is coming,” Cox said in a prepared statement.

“The choice for Manitoba is either a federal carbon tax, which would be punitive for the province, or a ‘Made-in-Manitoba’ approach to addressing climate change. We will propose a plan that takes into account our previous investments in clean energy and provides sensitivity to our economic realities. These groups would be better served and would be better serving Manitobans if they joined in this effort.”

While protest rallies are frequently held on the steps of the Manitoba legislature, rarely do they feature protesters in suits and ties.

MacKay said the Tories don’t have voters’ consent for a carbon tax, which Ottawa plans to introduce next year at $10 per tonne of carbon emissions, rising to $50 per tonne in 2022.

In their election platform and campaign, the Tories “used the vague term ‘carbon pricing’. They didn’t receive a mandate for carbon taxes,” MacKay said.

Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association spokesman Gunter Jochum said farmers have invested so much themselves into innovation that protects the environment, that his fuel costs per acre are the same now as in the early 1980s when he started farming just west of Winnipeg.

“We’re doing things that help the environment already,” Jochum said, adding Ottawa is proposing to punish farmers with a carbon tax, which might be invested in innovation research to achieve what they’re already achieving.

Their newly-formed Manitoba Against Carbon Taxes Coalition is not questioning climate change, Jochum emphasized.

“Climate change is here, of course. Carbon tax is not going to stop climate change,” he said.

The groups are launching a campaign targeting Tory caucus members through rural newspapers, urging Manitobans to tell the Conservative MLAs they don’t want a carbon tax. The first group targeted includes Pallister, and nine rural cabinet ministers and backbenchers, all male. Cox, a Winnipeg MLA, isn’t included.

“It’s the ones we’re starting with. We wanted to take it to the rural communities,” MacKay explained.

NDP environment critic Rob Altemeyer immediately released a statement calling on Pallister to do pretty much everything the coalition opposes, while also taking shots at the premier’s lack of specific plans.

“Premier Brian Pallister promised a price on carbon during the election and continues to say his plan is to implement a price on carbon. Whether the province implements its own plan or Ottawa’s, Pallister will be levying hundreds of millions of dollars from Manitobans, but he refuses to explain how he will spend that money,” Altemeyer said.

“Once again, Brian Pallister is using arguments with Ottawa as a smokescreen for what he intends to do, and he is risking millions of federal dollars in the process that could be used to create green jobs and make investments that save people money,” he said.

“The Pallister government needs to reveal his plan and be clear that every single dollar of a carbon price will to go towards new initiatives that reduce carbon emissions or address impacts for low-income Manitobans and communities.”

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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