Sask. premier calls for 'economic assessment' of climate initiatives
Emily Chan, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, February 28, 2016 11:00AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, March 1, 2016 11:14AM EST
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says Canada-wide climate initiatives should have to undergo rigorous "economic impact assessments," in the same way that development projects are subject to environmental evaluations.
Speaking on CTV's Question Period, Wall said economic assessments should be mandatory for initiatives that could impact jobs, consumers and businesses.
"Before we sign on to any pan-Canadian initiative with respect to climate change … it'll be Saskatchewan's position that there be an economic impact assessment done," Wall said. "Let's find out what it would do to consumers. Let's find out what it might do to businesses, to an economy that's soft."
Wall and other provincial and federal leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are scheduled to meet in Vancouver this week to discuss a national climate strategy.
The meeting will kick off a six-month process aimed at establishing a plan to meet Canada's Paris Climate Conference commitments.
Environment Minister Catherina McKenna told The Canadian Press that she expects the working group to produce "a package of measures" by the end of the six months, and that "one of those (measures) is a price on carbon."
Carbon tax opposition
Six provinces have already adopted a carbon tax, are in the process of implanting one, or have announced that they intend to do so. However, Saskatchewan has remained firmly opposed to the idea.
On Saturday, Wall reiterated this position, saying in a Facebook post that he would not sign any federal agreements that include the tax.
"In case you're wondering, I won't be signing any agreement that includes a national carbon tax," he wrote in the post.
Wall told CTV's Question Period that the decision comes down to timing.
"We oppose (a carbon tax)," he said. "We don't think that this is the right time for a carbon tax, given weaknesses in the Canadian economy, given the challenges that we're facing in the energy sector."
Wall said his province has lost some 2,000 energy-sector jobs due to the drop in oil prices. And, as the economy continues to falter, he intends to do what he can to prevent further losses.
He's also calling on the federal government to boost the provincial economy by supporting the Energy East Pipeline, infrastructure spending and an abandoned oil well clean-up program.
"There's real hurt in our energy sector, there's real hurt in our province," Wall said. "Our principle here … is that we do no further harm to an economy that already has its hands full."
With files from The Canadian Press