Manitoba’s premier isn’t backing away from his Made in Manitoba Green Plan.
Despite the federal government refusing to accept the 2018 provincial plan, and imposing the federal carbon tax on the province, Brian Pallister is hoping to revive the Green Plan.
“I want the federal government to see the opportunity for them in agreeing with a Made-in-Manitoba Green Plan that is science-based, that can work better than the plan they have forced on Manitoba,” said Pallister to reporters during Manitoba Ag Days.
“I see this as an opportunity for the federal government to put evidence on the table to show that they are serious about working with Western Canada.”
So far, the federal government hasn’t signalled much about being willing to re-open its decision to reject the Manitoba plan.
Keystone Agricultural Producers, which accepts the Manitoba plan’s earlier commitment to a flat $25 per tonne of carbon tax that exempts most farm uses, hasn’t yet been able to speak directly with the federal government about the issue.
“There has not been that conversation,” said KAP President Bill Campbell.
“Hopefully there will be some sort of dialogue.”
The Manitoba plan exempts both grain drying and fuel costs for farm production facilities from the carbon tax, which the federal plan does not.
Pallister did not shy away from talking about his Green Plan, even though it has drawn heat from many of his Progressive Conservative party supporters.
Imposing any sort of carbon tax, which he refers to as a levy, is unpopular with some Conservatives.
Pallister discussed and praised his 2018 plan in the final section of his speech to Ag Days attendees, and swore to bring it into force.
“That plan is going to be enacted,” said Pallister.
“We are enacting it, including the carbon levy, which will be flat, like the Prairie horizon, and will not continue to rise. We will stand for that plan.”
Pallister refuses to say at what level a Manitoba carbon tax would now be set at, if agreed to by the federal government. The $25 rate will not necessarily stand.
The Manitoba Green Plan is an audacious program of incentives and program emphases designed to encourage industries and individuals to improve their carbon footprints and other impacts on the natural environment. It was the product of a long consultation process with communities and industries across the province, including KAP and other farm groups, and was introduced with much fanfare at Oak Hammock Marsh, with much of the provincial cabinet and the leaders of most Manitoba industries present for the launch.
But while the non-tax elements of the plan have formed the basis of many initiatives of the provincial government since then, the federal government’s decision to reject the carbon tax element as sufficient has stung Pallister and brought many bitter comments from him since.
He said he was hoping that his government’s re-election and Justin Trudeau’s federal government re-election would allow the Manitoba plan to be considered again.
“We are not asking for a special deal. We are asking for respect,” said Pallister.
“If they want to work with Western Canada, I am giving them the opportunity to do so.”