Pallister seeks legal advice on Ottawa’s climate-change plan


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The Pallister government has hired a University of Manitoba constitutional law expert to provide a legal opinion on whether Ottawa has the authority to implement a carbon-pricing scheme in Manitoba.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/08/2017 (2063 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Pallister government has hired a University of Manitoba constitutional law expert to provide a legal opinion on whether Ottawa has the authority to implement a carbon-pricing scheme in Manitoba.

Bryan Schwartz will provide legal advice on the constitutionality of the federal government’s decision to set benchmarks on pricing.

Ottawa wants provinces to phase in carbon pricing that would reach $50 a tonne by 2022 or develop a cap-and-trade system.

“Dr. Schwartz is a well-known Manitoban expert on constitutional law who will provide a legal opinion to help guide our government in its development of a made-in-Manitoba climate and carbon-pricing plan,” Justice Minister Heather Stefanson said in a news release Thursday.

“Our government looks forward to receiving his assessment as we seek clarity in this fundamentally important matter.”

Premier Brian Pallister has said Manitoba should get credit for billions of dollars the province has invested in its hydroelectric system, which provides the vast majority of the province’s power. He’s looking at cutting a better deal for Manitoba with Ottawa.

Saskatchewan has already threatened to challenge the carbon-pricing plan in court, saying it doesn’t take into account measures taken to reduce emissions, such as that province’s carbon-capture facility.

All provinces and territories except for Manitoba and Saskatchewan agreed to sign a carbon-pricing plan in December when they signed the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

Provinces have until the end of 2018 to introduce a price on carbon or Ottawa will impose its own model on them.

Ottawa presented provinces with three options for pricing carbon several weeks ago: legislate their own levy on emissions starting at $10 a tonne; legislate their own cap-and-trade system that can show it will produce equivalent cuts in emissions as a carbon tax; or use a hybrid model largely based on Alberta’s program that Ottawa will impose itself.

Meanwhile, the newly formed Manitoba Carbon Pricing Coalition held a news conference at the Legislative Building Thursday to urge the province to introduce a Manitoba carbon price in 2018.

“This coalition is not advocating for any specific policy. We’re here to educate and to provide information about carbon pricing so that the public and governments have all the facts to make informed decisions,” spokesman Curt Hull said.

He said Manitoba should not ask for any special favours on carbon pricing. He said every province needs to do its share.

“In order to avoid the potentially catastrophic consequences from climate change we need to take urgent action,” he said.

Members of the coalition include Climate Change Connection, Green Action Centre, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives — Manitoba, International Institute for Sustainable Development, University of Winnipeg, Prairie Climate Centre, Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, Transition Winnipeg, Canadians for Clean Prosperity/Manitobans for a Clean Economy and the Citizens Climate Lobby.

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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