September 21, 2018

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After face-to-face meeting, Pallister, Trudeau still in disagreement over carbon tax

Despite receiving some encouraging words Tuesday from the prime minister on Manitoba's climate change policies, Premier Brian Pallister emerged from an hour-long meeting with Justin Trudeau admitting the two governments remain entrenched in their respective positions on the carbon tax.

Pallister said he was unable to obtain assurances from the PM that Ottawa would not force the province to collect a higher tax down the road than the $25-a-tonne levy Manitoba will introduce in December. Ottawa is insisting the tax gradually increase to $50 a tonne.

Asked if he had convinced Trudeau to his way of thinking, the premier said: "Not at this point, but I expect that that's something we're going to have to continue to pursue."

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Despite receiving some encouraging words Tuesday from the prime minister on Manitoba's climate change policies, Premier Brian Pallister emerged from an hour-long meeting with Justin Trudeau admitting the two governments remain entrenched in their respective positions on the carbon tax.

Pallister said he was unable to obtain assurances from the PM that Ottawa would not force the province to collect a higher tax down the road than the $25-a-tonne levy Manitoba will introduce in December. Ottawa is insisting the tax gradually increase to $50 a tonne.

Asked if he had convinced Trudeau to his way of thinking, the premier said: "Not at this point, but I expect that that's something we're going to have to continue to pursue."

The uncertainty over whether the tax will double in time creates economic uncertainty for Manitoba, Pallister told reporters. "And that uncertainty is hurting our ability to continue the (economic) recovery that we've been generating so far."

Earlier in the day, Trudeau spoke favourably about Manitoba's stance on climate change, as he and Pallister attended the announcement of an expansion of the Canada Goose clothing plant in Winnipeg expected to create 700 new jobs.

"We are very pleased that Manitoba is moving forward with a strong plan to put a cost on pollution," Trudeau said. "We will have conversations… about how we ensure everyone is being fair and everyone is doing their part across the country."

He said the work Pallister’s government has done could be an example for other provinces.

"To see a leader, indeed a conservative leader, who understands the need to have a concrete plan to fight climate change and takes real action that is going to be in the best interests of Manitobans… is something I very much welcome," Trudeau said. "I wish he would encourage some of the other conservative provinces across the country to recognize that having a plan to fight climate change is something that all Canadians, regardless of where they are on the political spectrum, have the right to expect."

In his meeting with the prime minister, Pallister said he made the case for federal funding for a new hydro transmission line between Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Manitoba has surplus hydro power, which Saskatchewan could use to retire coal-fired power generating plants.

Manitoba is looking to Ottawa for a substantial investment in a new east-west transmission line. Pallister didn't say how Trudeau reacted to the idea, but he said he raised it with the PM to show that Manitoba is "serious about getting green and helping others to get green."

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister listens as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a press conference at a new 700-employee Canada Goose manufacturing facility in Winnipeg. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister listens as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a press conference at a new 700-employee Canada Goose manufacturing facility in Winnipeg. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, in his first media scrum in about a month, Pallister answered questions about recent allegations of sexual abuse and bullying by Hydro workers at past and current northern construction projects.

He also said he is not worried about the province facing a possible court challenge because of its decision to ban home-grown cannabis.

And, he dismissed a question about whether he will withdraw a threat to sue the Free Press after admitting to the Canadian Press recently that he, in fact, did owe taxes on his Costa Rican vacation home. "I'm big enough to admit my mistakes. I'd like the Free Press to admit theirs, too," he said, without elaborating.

— with files from Martin Cash

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.

Read full biography

History

Updated on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at 9:37 AM CDT: Cutlines fixed.

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