Prime Minister Stephen Harper is warning Canadians that the newly released Liberal carbon tax plan will "screw everybody across the country."

Harper used what some may consider unsavoury language during a visit to Saskatchewan -- a province booming because of oil revenues.

"(The carbon tax plan) is like the national energy program in the sense that the national energy program was designed to screw the West and really damage the energy sector -- and this will do those things," the Conservative leader said in Saskatoon, standing next to Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

The federal Liberals introduced the national energy program in the 1980s. Many voters claimed it was little more than a cash grab by Central Canada at the expense of the western provinces, especially in oil-rich Alberta.

"This is different in that this will actually screw everybody across the country."

The Liberal plan, released Thursday, is based on an energy tax on carbon fuels, which will be based on consumption. It will primarily target industries, putting the price of greenhouse gas emissions at $10 per tonne, rising to $40 per tonne in the fourth year. There will also be increases in taxes for diesel, jet fuel, and other energy sources.

The new taxes are expected to generate about $15.4 billion annually in revenue in four years. But the Liberals say their plan will be revenue neutral because it will cut personal income taxes and increase family support payments by about the same amount collected by the new energy taxes.

A prominent Canadian economist says Stephane Dion's "Green Shift" carbon tax plan is "a good start" that will leave the general Canadian taxpayer "better off."

"The idea itself is very sensible," Don Drummond, the chief economist at TD Bank, told CTV's Canada AM on Friday.

"There's a growing consensus to do something about emissions. We need to put a price on carbons. This proposes it."

Drummond said that "in most cases" the average Canadian will "be better off" because of income tax breaks and additional federal benefits included in the plan. He also noted that the Liberal plan also addresses a "bizarre situation" on energy taxes.

"We have a fairly stiff tax on gasoline. We have a lower level tax on aviation and diesel. But we have no tax of other pollutants from energy (such as coal). So, it levels the playing field," he said.

Dion said Friday morning that Harper is out of step with many national and international leaders, especially when he makes comments claiming the Liberal plan is "crazy" environmental policy.

"Then he's calling crazy all of these experts who are saying we need to do that," Dion said on Canada AM.

"Japan is considering doing the same. Other countries have done it (put in a carbon tax). British Columbia has decided to do it. So the prime minister is insulting a lot of people."