Manitoba is confident the province's own carbon-pricing plan is better than anything the federal government can do.
After the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that the federal government’s carbon-pricing legislation is constitutional, Premier Brian Pallister indicated the province will continue its fight and, on Friday, Conservation Minister Sarah Guillemard weighed in.
"We have a plan we know is going to be better for Manitoba and we will continue to advocate for Manitobans," Guillemard said at a press conference to announce $50 million for water and wastewater projects, some of which had been announced in the past.
Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta challenged the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act — the 2018 legislation that created a nationwide minimum threshold level for a carbon tax — and lost. Manitoba signed on as an intervener in the case, which argued that Ottawa had meddled in the provinces’ ability to develop their natural resources.
In 2019, Manitoba filed a separate lawsuit in Federal Court, which asserts Ottawa had no right to disregard the province's carbon-tax plan for falling short of its minimum requirements.
When asked what Manitoba plans to do if the Federal Court rejects its carbon-pricing plan, Guillemard said she's confident it will be accepted.
"It is fulsome and will address greenhouse gas emissions in comprehensive and multiple different ways," she said.
Manitoba’s plan outlined a permanent $25 per tonne carbon tax, but the federal benchmark started at $20 per tonne in 2019 and will rise to $50 by 2022. In December, Ottawa announced plans to raise the amount to $170 per tonne by 2030.
Manitoba's plan wasn't just about a carbon tax, Guillemard said.
"Our plan recognized a carbon tax as a tool, not 'the' tool," she said. It's a plan made for Manitoba that included public consultation and feedback, she said.
"The federal backstop was never specific to any region," the minister said. "I'm confident our plan is much better."
The NDP critic said Guillemard should get to work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Manitoba and stop wasting money and energy fighting courtroom battles.
"It's disappointing the minister is playing along with the premier's charade instead of actually tackling climate change," said Lisa Naylor. "Manitoba already lost one court battle — we don't need to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on a second one," she said.
"The minister should be focusing on what families actually want, like a clean, healthy future for their kids and the next generation."
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.