McKenna admits carbon tax will boost the price at the pump in 4 provinces
Published Sunday, March 31, 2019 7:00AM EDT
With the federal carbon tax coming into effect in four provinces on Monday, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says residents of those provinces can expect to pay an average of four cents more per litre at the pump.
She said 90 per cent of this revenue will be returned to Canadians through a tax rebate.
"Yes, let's be clear. The price of gas will go up just over four cents," McKenna told host Evan Solomon during an interview for CTV Question Period, airing Sunday.
The government is pushing provinces to impose a price on carbon emissions, starting at $10 per tonne this year with the eventual goal of rising to $50 per tonne in 2022. However, because Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick have yet to introduce plans that meet the government's criteria, the Liberal government is going to impose its own tax on them.
The tax is effective April 1.
McKenna said the increased price at the pump is supposed to drive consumers to choose greener options.
"That creates an incentive for people to consider, maybe I should look at a more energy efficient vehicle, maybe I should choose public transportation," McKenna said. "You still get the money back at the end of the day."
For some, however, the rebate doesn't cut it.
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is standing alongside multiple Conservative premiers who have been vocally opposing the federal price on carbon. In the latest bid to draw attention to their opposition to the tax, Scheer's Conservatives have been sending out mass-texts telling Canadians in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan to fill their gas tank this weekend ahead of the policy's April 1 effectuation date.
"Andrew Scheer here," reads the text. "Trudeau's carbon tax will raise gas prices on Monday. So fill your tank!"
McKenna pushed back against the criticism, calling on Scheer to make his climate plan public.
"They have no climate plan. They spend all their time fighting and putting out misinformation about our plan," she said. "I think it is incumbent on the Conservatives to say what their plan is."
She added that political parties, rather than fighting with one another, should "all be working together" to fight climate change.
"Climate change is accelerating, it's not becoming less," McKenna said. "We need to act, and we know part of any credible climate plan is making it no longer free to pollute."
In October 2018 the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report insisting that the world is on track to fail to keep global warming below 2 C, which was the goal laid out in the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.
Meeting the goal, the report said, "would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society."
McKenna, however, says Canada is working diligently to meet its 2030 goal of curbing emissions to 30 per cent below what they were in 2005. This, despite the government's own emissions projections report saying the government is falling short of its goal.
"These targets, let's be clear, are years out. Of course we need to continue to take action," she said.
When pressed on whether the government will introduce additional environmental measures before the election, McKenna said there's no plan to do so.
"We've already announced all our measures," she said.
She added, however, that the government is "always looking at what we can do more."
Meanwhile, the government's existing climate measures continue to face opposition from critics like Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. He has brought his opposition to the federal carbon tax into a Saskatchewan Court of Appeal with the goal of challenging the federal government's ability to levy the charge.
Moe said he is "anxiously awaiting" a decision from the court "saying that [the government doesn't] have the constitutional authority to do this."
With files from The Canadian Press