PALLISTER: Manitoba’s green plan ‘best in Canada

stthomas times journal

 

I am writing to you on a matter of great importance to all Manitobans.

On Oct. 3, I announced that your government would not proceed with a Manitoba carbon tax.

I will explain why.

The danger posed by climate change is real and it is serious. We see the evidence all around us, in warmer temperatures, both in the air and in the oceans. In the form of dangerous storms, which happen more frequently. In forest fires of unprecedented intensity, and in severe flooding that happens far more often.

Climate change threatens our safety and our economy. It threatens our future, especially the future of generations that will follow us.

We are leading the way with a Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan that is widely acknowledged as the best in Canada.

Our plan focuses on four pillars of cleaner water, conservation of natural areas, effective steps to address climate change, and strengthening our economy. It continues our investments in renewable energy, while encouraging Manitobans to reduce their energy consumption. It will assist local communities in their efforts to protect our watersheds. It will clean up contaminated sites, increase recycling, and build new schools to a higher standard of energy efficiency and environmental design. It will establish a $100 million Conservation Trust to preserve and protect our grasslands, woodlands, wetlands, waterways and wildlife habitat.

It’s a plan that will be implemented without any significant assistance from the federal government.

Last year, we received legal advice that the federal government has the constitutional power to impose a carbon tax, but only on provinces that do not implement plans of their own. Our Climate and Green Plan, which is better for our economy and better for our environment, was designed by Manitobans to protect Manitobans and to keep Ottawa’s hands out of our pockets.

Our Made-in-Manitoba plan proposed a flat and low tax, like the prairie horizon. That flat rate would have provided stability to consumers, business, industry and agriculture. It would have saved Manitoba families and businesses more than $260 million over five years, compared to the Ottawa carbon tax. Most importantly, all monies collected under our plan would have been returned to Manitobans, in the form of tax reductions. There are no such guarantees with the Ottawa plan.

Immediately after unveiling our Climate and Green Plan, and on numerous occasions thereafter, we sought the federal government’s assurance that they would not impose their escalating carbon tax over and above the Manitoba tax. Almost a year after our Manitoba Climate and Green Plan was released, however, Ottawa’s high tax threat remains, and that is unacceptable.

Ottawa has acknowledged our plan is the best in Canada, but they have also stated that they will impose their higher — and rising — carbon tax after one year. It could mean twice the tax, for poorer results. Double for nothing. That would threaten jobs and economic growth throughout our province. At a time when Manitoba is making progress in fixing our finances and rebuilding our economy, the last thing struggling families, seniors and small businesses need is higher taxes.

We will always defend the interests of Manitobans. Today, tomorrow, and for as long as we are privileged to serve this province and its people.

Manitoba’s Climate and Green Plan deserves Ottawa’s respect. We are already Canada’s cleanest, greenest province. We are investing billions in renewable energy, without a single dollar from Ottawa, yet we are given no credit for it. In fact, Manitoba Hydro’s debt will rise to $25 billion — $19,800 per Manitoban — thanks to the NDP’s massive overbuild. You have already made a significant investment in green. Rather than respect this investment, Ottawa threatens to impose an escalating carbon tax which will take billions of dollars off the kitchen tables of Manitoba families.

Our course of action is clear. The federal government says Manitobans aren’t doing enough to protect the environment. They are wrong. They say a carbon tax is the only solution to fighting climate change. We disagree. They claim they have the absolute right to impose a carbon tax on Manitobans. We say “no.”

We say “yes” to a cleaner, greener future for Manitoba. We say “yes” to a Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan, without a carbon tax.

— The Honourable Brian Pallister Premier of Manitoba.

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