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'Good luck with that': PM says Saskatchewan premier shouldn't pick fight with CRA

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OTTAWA -

-- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on Wednesday that the Canada Revenue Agency is "very, very good" at getting the money it's owed.

"Having an argument with CRA about not wanting to pay your taxes is not a position I want anyone to be in," he said at a press conference in Oakville, Ont.

"Good luck with that, Premier Moe."

The Saskatchewan premier has pledged his province will not send Ottawa the money it collects from the federal carbon price on natural gas -- a move that breaks federal law.

The jurisdictional spat began when the Liberals created a temporary exemption to the carbon price for home heating oil.

The Saskatchewan government said that's unfair and politically motivated because the exemption has an outsized impact in Atlantic Canada, where oil is the main fuel source for home heating.

Moe's government has called for a similar exemption on natural gas, the primary home-heating fuel in Saskatchewan.

He has also been a vocal opponent of the carbon levy more broadly, and counts himself among a majority of premiers who have written to Trudeau seeking a meeting to talk about alternatives to the carbon price.

Trudeau has rebuffed calls for such a meeting and challenged premiers to come up with their own climate plans if they don't like the federal carbon price, pointing to British Columbia and Quebec as examples of provinces with their own system.

The prime minister confirmed Tuesday that his government will keep sending carbon rebate cheques to people in Saskatchewan.

On Wednesday, he reiterated that most people in jurisdictions that use the federal carbon price get more back in rebates than they pay each year.

"CRA is an independent organization that is very, very good at getting money it is owed from Canadians, from businesses and now from provinces, if it has to," he said.

"We don't have to do anything as a federal government."

He also took a shot at Moe for his "ideological opposition to fighting climate change" and accused the federal Conservatives of stalling a bill that would increase the rural top-up to the carbon rebate for ideological reasons.

But the increasing criticism of the carbon price in recent months has not only come from conservative politicians.

The country's lone Liberal premier, Newfoundland and Labrador's Andrew Furey, is among those calling for change.

And NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is accusing the prime minister of taking a divisive approach to climate change.

"We need a plan that's more fair for workers," Singh said outside the Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Wednesday.

"When workers see billions of dollars in subsidies going to big polluters, and there's no money in place for everyday Canadians to get a heat pump, that feels unfair."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2024.

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