Wall rules out carbon tax until economy rebounds

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February 29, 2016 - 1:43pm Updated: March 1, 2016 - 7:20am
Premier Brad Wall said he would not consider a carbon tax until the economy improves.
Lasia Kretzel/CKOM News
Premier Brad Wall said he would not consider a carbon tax until the economy improves.

As the nation's premiers prepare to discuss climate change this week, Saskatchewan's premier is reiterating his position against a carbon tax, at least until the economy improves.

Brad Wall said he would not sign the proposal for a national carbon tax that will likely be presented to premiers at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Vancouver climate meeting Thursday.

"With the overall Canadian economy struggling, it's my view, it's the Saskatchewan government's view, that the very last thing we need right now is a new tax," Brad Wall said Monday following a post on Facebook over the weekend. "A national carbon tax would tax a chunk out of those sectors out of our economy in Saskatchewan that are actually helping to keep things moving forward."

Wall did not rule out introducing a provincial levy on heavy emitters once the energy sector kicks up again. He said such a tax would focus on the largest emitters rather than a broad tax on individuals and all the funds would go towards green technology research.

"We're not saying never, but we're saying not now and not for the foreseeable future," he said.

Six other provinces have already introduced carbon pricing, are in the process of doing so, or have announced their intention to adopt a policy.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said setting a carbon price is key to fighting climate change and that big energy companies have already created internal prices on carbon because they know it’s going to happen.

However, Wall said if Canadian "is serious about climate change", governments should focus on green technologies to mitigate carbon emissions. Wall did not specify how the research could be funded.

Should the federal government attempt to impose a carbon tax, Wall said his government would look at all options to see whether Ottawa can tax Crown corporations such as SaskPower.

Following Thursday's meeting, a series of working groups will be given six months to work out how to make the agreed upon policies a reality.