Premier Blaine Higgs says the legal debate over carbon pricing in Canada is over and it is time to find a way to make the fight against climate change fair for all provinces.
Higgs said he wasn’t surprised Thursday when the Supreme Court of Canada issued a 6-3 ruling that Ottawa’s carbon pricing system, including a requirement that the provinces follow suit, was constitutional.
He told reporters it was likely that the provinces that took the case to court and refused to create their own carbon prices will now follow suit and make their own versions.
“Once you have exhausted the legal process, you need to look inward and say, ‘What is the best way to mitigate the loss or impact on the citizens of my province?’ And I’m sure they will. ”
Saskatchewan’s Prime Minister Scott Moe said Thursday he would adopt a pricing system like that of New Brunswick.
Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta have challenged the federal system in court. All three provinces have refused to enforce their own carbon prices, and Ottawa has allowed its regime, the so-called “backstop”, to be imposed on them.
Higgs initially joined them, but after the federal liberals were re-elected in 2019, including a majority of the New Brunswick seats, he said he would respect voters and introduce his own pricing system.
This includes a levy on the pumps that will rise to 8.8 cents per liter on April 1st. Thanks to a reduction in gas consumption tax last year, it only costs drivers 4.2 cents.
Instead of cutting the excise tax again this year, Higgs is trying to reimburse some of the revenue directly to consumers, similar to the federal stop.
Saskatchewan’s Prime Minister Scott Moe said he would introduce a pricing system like that of New Brunswick. (CBC)
Higgs told reporters that all provinces accept the need for action against climate change and “the only thing we are likely to be against in many areas is the pace at which we are getting there.”
But he said it was unfair that the federal system was giving provinces with high levels of renewable energy like Quebec’s dam network an advantage over those that rely heavily on oil and coal like Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Climate change “is real, we have to deal with it, but we cannot destroy our country in the process,” said Higgs.
“This has to be an all-for-one, one-for-all approach. It cannot be that some provinces win really big and other provinces lose really big. Because that’s how it is going.”
The federal price standard will continue to rise each year through 2030, reaching $ 170 per tonne of fossil fuel, which is about 37 cents per liter of unleaded gasoline.
Liberal opposition leader Roger Melanson said after the lawsuit, Higgs should now use all the proceeds from the province’s carbon prices for climate change initiatives.
The Liberals and the Greens have accused the progressive conservatives of spending some of the money on state infrastructure that would have been funded from other revenues if there had been no carbon tax.
Melanson said after years of government inaction on climate change, it was time to “accelerate” efforts to slow its effects.
But he wouldn’t say whether he supports the decision of his liberal allies in Ottawa to raise the price further to 37 cents a liter in nine years.
“What I support is to be aggressive to address the problem of climate change,” he said.