Trudeau talks with Sask. farm leaders, not backing down on carbon tax

GRAY, Sask. — Prime minister Justin Trudeau says he understands the concerns Saskatchewan farmers have about carbon tax but he isn’t backing down from imposing one.

Speaking to more than 100 people packed into the Gray Recreation Centre April 27, he said he appreciates how technology and innovation have helped farmers become more efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“How we innovate, how we get more efficient, how we work towards a country and businesses that are less polluting and more efficient is something that every farmer gets,” he said.

Trudeau said technology is one way to adapt to the changing climate.

“But we also have to look at our responsibility to pollute less, and putting a price on carbon pollution is a way of encouraging and rewarding people who are innovating and reducing their carbon pollution outputs,” he said.

Todd Lewis, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, said agriculture needs recognition for what it’s already done.

“Intuitively, farmers recognize you burn fuel, you spend more money,” he said. “For years we’ve been on the carbon bandwagon just from the practices we do. It wasn’t about saving carbon it was about being efficient and growing better crops and that’s what we’ve done.

“Low carbon agriculture, it was born in Saskatchewan (and) we’re improving it constantly.”

Trudeau also addressed his recent conversations with U.S. president Donald Trump about the future of NAFTA.

Trump had said he was going to issue an order to leave the agreement but tweeted Thursday that he changed his mind after conversations with Trudeau and the Mexican president.

“He was very much thinking about cancelling and I highlighted that quite frankly whether or not there was a better deal to come there were an awful lot of jobs, an awful lots of industries right now that have been developed under the NAFTA context and a disruption like cancelling NAFTA, even if it theoretically eventually might lead to better outcomes, would cause a lot of short and medium term pain for an awful lot of families,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister toured the Lewis farm and met with farm leaders during his Saskatchewan stop.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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