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Catherine McKenna flounders on pledge to halt carbon tax at $50 a tonne

A Parliamentary Budget Office report found that the federal government would have to more-than-double the tax to $102 a tonne if it relied solely on the federal tax to reach the committed amount of greenhouse gas emissions internationally.
Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has apparently shied away from her party’s promise to freeze the carbon tax at $50 a tonne after 2022.

Minister McKenna had originally said that the Liberal plan was to not increase the tax once it hit $50, or 11 cents per litre of gas. Now, a change in tone has occurred, with McKenna stating that if the Liberal Party were to be re-elected, that the government would reassess their stance with provinces before making a decision.

This came after a Parliamentary Budget Office report found that the federal government would have to more-than-double the tax to $102 a tonne if it relied solely on the federal tax to reach the committed amount of greenhouse gas emissions internationally.

When asked if she had the intention to increase the tax by The Globe and Mail, McKenna said that the government had no plan to increase the tax, while adding that the government would have to consult with provinces, territories, and businesses before proceeding.

The carbon tax continues to be a key issue when discussing the coming federal election in October. The tax has been the centrepiece of many discussions, with several conservative provincial governments fighting against the tax in court.

Some Conservatives have lambasted the carbon tax for taking money out of pockets of Canadians, including MP Pierre Poilievre, who criticized McKenna for what he called a “double flip-flop” on the carbon tax.

“It is evidence that the Liberal government has a hidden agenda ? they will raises taxes far higher than they have admitted to date,” Poilievre said

McKenna has tried to make as clear as possible, though, that she has no intention to increase the levy.

“In our climate plan, we committed to 2022 with provinces and territories. So there are no plans to increase it—that was our plan to 2022,” Ms. McKenna said to the Globe and Mail last week.

Currently, the carbon tax is applied in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick, all of which have carbon prices that do not meet federal standards. With the election of the United Conservative Party, Jason Kenney has stood in the way of the tax’s application in Alberta which was imposed by the previous NDP provincial government.

Jason Nixon, the Alberta Environment Minister, accused the Liberals of having a “hidden plan.”

“It’s clear that the Trudeau Liberals can’t be trusted to not hike their carbon tax further if elected to a second term,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

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Roberto Wakerell-Cruz
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