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Feds' climate-plan rebuke not 'thoughtful': Pallister

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Premier Brian Pallister says his government’s climate plan is a ‘better alternative’ to Ottawa’s guidelines.</p></p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Premier Brian Pallister says his government’s climate plan is a ‘better alternative’ to Ottawa’s guidelines.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/11/2017 (721 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/11/2017 (721 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Stung by federal criticism that Manitoba will have to ‘up its game’ on climate change in the future, Premier Brian Pallister suggested Tuesday that Ottawa is more interested in imposing its will than lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

On Tuesday, the premier continued to face questions about his government’s climate change plan. Last week, he announced that Manitoba would next year impose a one-time carbon tax of $25 a tonne — or roughly the equivalent of five cents per litre on gasoline — instead of gradually meeting a federal requirement of $50 a tonne within five years.

"I didn’t particularly think that the initial comments from the federal government representatives were thoughtful in respect of things like us having to ‘up our game’," Pallister told reporters.

"If anybody needs to up their game, I’ll argue, on an environmental record, the federal government... may need to up its game. Manitoba has been the greenest province in the country, arguably apart from P.E.I., for some time now. And we have a record that’s pretty good in terms of doing the right things for the environment."

On Friday, after the province announced its climate change strategy, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the Manitoba proposal would serve it well for the first few years. "After that, they’ll need to up their game," she said on her Facebook page. "The details matter."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Manitoba would have to follow federal guidelines, and McKenna reiterated her expectations for an eventual $50-a-tonne tax this week.

"We don’t want the federal plan. We want a better alternative. We’ve worked very, very hard to develop a better alternative. It works better for our environment. We think it will achieve better results over the five-year period they’ve outlined. We’re ready to be measured on it and be accountable on it," Pallister said Tuesday.

"But to suggest, as this one federal minister did, that we have to up our game. Or that somehow the federal government will arbitrarily increase the level of the carbon tax after a certain preordained time that they’ll determine, makes this all about federal power and not about results. To me, this is about results."

When it was suggested to the premier that he was heading for a legal showdown with the federal government, he replied: "we won’t need to go to court if the federal government is reasonable, thoughtful and has some foresight."

Pallister said federal governments in the past have issued ultimatums "and it hasn’t worked very well." He said perhaps the federal Liberals are in "negotiation mode right now."

"Perhaps that’s what they’re doing," he added.

On Friday, Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires will represent Manitoba at a meeting of Canada’s environment ministers in Vancouver. It will be the first opportunity for Manitoba to make its case for a lower carbon tax to McKenna directly.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the prime minister and federal environment minister have made it clear that Ottawa intends to require Manitoba to impose a $50-a-tonne levy down the road.

"I don’t think a court challenge is going to reduce carbon emissions," Kinew said of a potential federal-provincial legal battle. "I don’t think a court challenge is going to help our environment. We know that court challenges can be very costly, too."

As he’s done since the province released its green plan on Friday, Kinew emphasized Tuesday that the province will be working at cross-purposes if it allows Manitoba Hydro to raise hydroelectricity prices substantially at a time when it should be advocating the use of green hydro energy.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

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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Updated on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at 7:47 AM CDT: Adds photo

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