The Canadian Press hauled out its Baloney Meter to test Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s claim that the federal government’s proposed national carbon floor price “will siphon over $2.5 billion from Saskatchewan’s economy when fully implemented and make our province a less competitive place to do business.”
The verdict: The statement contained a shred of truth, but “a lot of baloney.”
Wall has made the claim a centrepiece of his resistance to putting a national price on carbon, making carbon capture and sequestration his province’s priority along with a plan to expand solar and wind generation. Under the scrutiny of CP’s fact-checkers, however, the claim was rated as being “mostly inaccurate, but contains elements of truth.”
“Wall’s estimate that a carbon tax would generate about $2.5 billion in Saskatchewan appears correct,” experts told the outlet. “The province generated 74.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2013. Assuming 70% would be taxed at $50 per tonne, that equates to $2.6 billion per year—well within Wall’s $2.5 billion ballpark.”
There is also a likelihood that’s hard to quantify that the additional cost will affect business competitiveness—although that effect would presumably be no greater in Saskatchewan than elsewhere in the country.
The whopper comes in the charge that all that money would be sucked out of Saskatchewan residents’ pockets. “Central to Trudeau’s announcement,” CP notes “was the promise that any and all revenue generated by a federally-imposed price would flow back to the province or territory from which it came — a direct contradiction of Wall’s Saskatchewan ‘siphon.’”
“The Saskatchewan government, if it chooses, can give the entire amount of revenue raised by the tax back to Saskatchewan residents, in whatever form it chooses,” Nicholas Rivers, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of the Environment, told CP in an email. “That could include tax rebates, tax cuts, or support for industries such as heavy manufacturing or agriculture that face a disproportionate impact from a carbon tax,” the news agency adds.