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This article was published 10/2/2018 (1189 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — The federal and provincial environment ministers say they’re still talking, as Ottawa’s deadline looms for $66 million in carbon retrofits for Manitoba.
As the Free Press first reported, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna gave her provincial counterpart Rochelle Squires a Feb. 28 deadline to endorse Ottawa’s general climate-change principles, or risk forfeiting Manitoba’s estimated $66-million share of a fund for carbon-reducing projects.
McKenna’s Dec. 15, 2017, letter surrounds the Pan-Canadian framework on climate change, a document that outlines principles such as the need for carbon pricing, but it does not set targets. Manitoba and Saskatchewan were the only holdouts when the provinces and territories ratified the framework in December 2016.
Squires had raised concerns about the document mentioning the federal carbon-tax target of $50 per tonne by 2022, which Manitoba’s flat $25 plan will not meet.
McKenna and Squires have been tight-lipped on how talks have been going in the eight weeks since Ottawa issued its ultimatum.
"I’m very — cautiously — optimistic with our ongoing dialogue with the federal government," Squires said Wednesday, saying a phone call with McKenna was happening "in short order." Her office confirmed it would not take place by today.
McKenna said officials are in touch with Manitoba, and she expects the province to get on board. But she also repeated that Manitoba’s flat $25 carbon levy will need to be raised by 2020.
"We’re certainly hopeful; we have said that the price, we will be reviewing the price across all jurisdictions, all provinces. But we’d be very welcome to have them sign on," McKenna said recently.
"We think there’s a great opportunity to work together to tackle climate change, there’s a lot of great solutions that I’m seeing coming out of Manitoba companies that are really committed to climate action."
Meanwhile, a finance department document uncovered by the website Blacklock’s Reporter revealed the federal Liberals are eyeing carbon-price increases that go beyond the 2022 target of $50 per tonne.
The document’s wording around "continued increases in stringency in future years" riled up Alberta’s United Conservative Party last month, which opposes the federal plan.
McKenna said any changes, such as going above $50, would be made after consulting the provinces.
"We need to have a discussion; we need to look at all of our policies — pricing is one of our policies. But we have all sorts of other measures, whether it’s investments in clean technologies that might have an impact, or other measures that we’ve taken. So our plan is to do a review with the provinces and territories," McKenna said.
Squires said the provincial government is putting its attention to its own climate plan, which it argues will make Manitoba "the most climate-resilient, green province in the land," beyond Ottawa’s target for reducing emissions.
"I’m just really focused on what we’re doing here in Manitoba," she said.
"Manitoba is leading by example on the climate file. We do have a very serious commitment to transitioning to a low-carbon future, and reducing our carbon footprint."