HASH(0xb5d664)

Wall criticizes attempt to link carbon policy with provincial transfer payments

Wall critical of carbon policy link to funding

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says any attempt by Ottawa to link transfer money with a province’s carbon tax policy would be a serious attack on federal-provincial relations.

Wall says memos obtained by the online publication Blacklock’s Reporter show the federal government intends to tie a province’s stance on carbon tax to equalization renegotiations.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Wall says that would violate the principles of fiscal federalism and he calls the threat unacceptable.

“I’m also asking him … to release the unredacted version of these internal memos so all the provinces know what we’re dealing with here,” Wall said Monday at the legislature.

“I think this is very serious. If the federal government is now saying, ‘Look, if you don’t support us here, you won’t get any of this money,’ to which all provinces are entitled to on a formula, well that’s less like how to run a federation and more like how you run a crime family.”

Equalization is a federal program that transfers money to poorer provinces so they can offer government services at similar levels across the country.

Wall argues Saskatchewan’s resource-based economy has contributed more than $5 billion to equalization over the last decade, while receiving nothing in payments.

Saskatchewan officials are contacting the federal government to find out what’s being considered, he said.

“First of all, the fact that it would be mused about even is a concern to me, that there’s someone in the Department of Finance â€” and I have to think it wouldn’t be without license from someone very senior â€” who’s thinking about, well, should equalization payments be tied to some province’s support of a specific federal Liberal policy,” said Wall.

“That kind of discussion shouldn’t even be happening, never mind in the senior levels at the Department of Finance.”

He said he’s also concerned about other transfer payments including for health, education and infrastructure funding.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s office tried to ease Wall’s concerns in a statement on Monday.

“The issue of pricing carbon pollution is unrelated to the federal government’s continual engagement with the provinces on the topic of equalization. Linking the two is not a conversation we are having with the provinces,” she said in the email.

Wall said he’s pleased to hear McKenna’s assurances, but her comments don’t address other types of federal payments, such as infrastructure funding.

Trudeau has said all provinces must set up a cap-and-trade system or impose a price on carbon of at least $10 per tonne starting next year, which  would increase to $50 by 2022, or Ottawa will do it for them.

Eleven provinces and territories agreed to the carbon price plan in December when they signed the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba did not.

McKenna told The Canadian Press last week that negotiations with the two provinces have continued.

Wall said Saskatchewan will continue to oppose any attempt by the federal government to impose a carbon tax on Saskatchewan.

“Meet us in court,” said Wall.

“My point to the federal government is, if they think they have the constitutional authority to impose a carbon tax on one or a couple of provinces, then go ahead, bring it forward and we will take this to court. We’re reasonably optimistic about our chances and if they are too, that should be their final vindication.”

Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

WATCH: Do you recognize this sexual assault suspect?

Victoria police release new footage suspect in Bay Centre attack on young girl

Foot found near Victoria belonged to missing Washington man

No foul play suspected in death of Stanley Okumoto, 79

Man surprises trial, claims responsibility for Saanich sex assault

Fellow inmate of accused David Hope claims responsibility

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

Higher gas tax to help fund transit in Greater Victoria

You’ll be paying an extra two cents per litre at the pump starting April 1, 2018

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

BC BUDGET: New money helps seniors’ care shortage

Job stability for care aides key to recruitment, union leader says

Mixed messages on B.C.’s efforts to cool hot housing market

Economist says undersupply of homes in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna will keep prices high

Questions raised over B.C. NDP’s childcare budget plan

Advocates concerned how to fill 22,000 new spaces for early childhood educators

B.C. family first to receive reimbursement for life-altering arthritis drug

Effective medication used to treat rare form of juvenile arthritis costs $19,000 a month

VIDEO: Island family builds eight-foot igloo in front of home

Sunday snowfall on the mid-Island leads to all-day family activity

IIO: Kamloops RCMP did not have to report shooting

The IIO is not investigating an officer-involved shooting that occurred in Kamloops in 2017

No smoke alarm, faulty cord contributed to fatal B.C. fire

Faulty electric cord and power source connected to space heater believed to have caused flames

Walmart partners online grocery service to bring Vancouver home delivery

Move expands upon similar efforts announced last November to grow home delivery service

Most Read