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Newfoundland premier says Trudeau has shown 'willingness' to carbon tax alternatives

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Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey says the prime minister has "shown a willingness to alternatives" to the controversial federal carbon pricing system.

In an interview on CTV News Channel's Power Play with Vassy Kapelos, Furey said he's "look(ing) forward" to a response from the federal government, as he works to develop an alternative to the carbon tax, which he said will be a "made-in-Newfoundland-and-Labrador solution" to fight climate change.

"I will say that the prime minister has shown a willingness to alternatives to the backstop," he said. "So I'm happy, and our government is working hard right now to show that Newfoundland and Labrador can meet its targets without a carbon tax."

"We will meet our targets without a carbon tax," he added.

Furey — the last remaining Liberal premier — publicly butted heads with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March, when he sent a letter calling on the federal government to pause April's carbon tax hike until inflation and interest rates stabilize.

In response, Trudeau accused the Newfoundland and Labrador premier of bowing to "political pressure" on the issue.

"We've expressed our opposition to the carbon tax, really, since I became premier," Furey told Kapelos. "So it's not bowing to political pressure. This has been our position all along."

Trudeau, meanwhile, has insisted his government won't back down on the carbon price.

"Every province has the opportunity to put forward its own plan as long as they are fighting climate change to the same level that we're asking all other Canadians to do," he told reporters in April. "That's what a federal backstop is."

"But we're not seeing detailed plans from the premiers on this," he added. "They'd much rather try to complain about it and make political hay out of this."

When pressed on whether he really thinks the federal government could bend on the issue, Furey said he does.

"They had a willingness to entertain a different system like cap and trade, and I know Manitoba is looking at proposing a made-in-Manitoba solution, and Newfoundland and Labrador will be coming forward with a made-in-Newfoundland-and-Labrador solution," Furey said, insisting his "problem with the carbon tax" is he doesn't believe it's effective at lowering emissions in his jurisdiction without infrastructure changes.

Furey in his interview also discussed Newfoundland and Labrador's court challenge of the equalization system formula, which is designed to distribute tax revenues between provinces to enable an equal standard of living across the country, but which he argues is unfair.

B.C. Premier David Eby said last week his government will also consider joining the court challenge.

You can watch Furey's full interview in the video player at the top of this article.

With files from CTV News' Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello 

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