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Liberals Would Not Raise Carbon Tax During a Second Term, But Might Talk About It: McKenna

A re-elected Liberal government that took office this fall would not raise the federal carbon tax above its current 2022 threshold of C$50 per tonne, but might open consultations on a higher price toward the end of its second term in office, Environment and Climate Minister Catherine McKenna clarified Monday, after a series of conflicting news reports dating back to the weekend.

“The Liberal government’s election platform will promise greater action to combat climate change, but will be silent on a plan for the carbon tax after 2022,” the Globe and Mail reports, capping a short flurry of news stories and clarifications that emerged with the official election campaign period set to begin in less than a month.

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“As reported by The Globe and Mail on Sunday, Ms. McKenna has flip-flopped on whether the Liberals will raise the carbon tax above $50 a tonne” after it hits that level, the paper states. “In June, she said the Liberals won’t raise the carbon tax after it hits $50, but in a recent interview with The Globe, she said any change would be done in consultation with the provinces and territories.”

Specifically, “she said the government had no plan to increase the tax, but would make a decision on future levels toward the end of the next mandate after consultations with provinces, territories, businesses, and Canadians more broadly.”

At a news conference Monday, “she confirmed that any change to the tax would not occur until after wide-ranging consultations, and would likely be put to voters in the general election after this one.” But meanwhile, Liberal candidate and longtime climate hawk Steven Guilbeault suggested the carbon tax should be set higher.

“That price should reflect the cost of #climatechange to society,” he tweeted, in response to the initial news report.

Ottawa-area Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said the confusion showed that “the Liberal plan is not an environmental plan, it is a tax plan.” But “while slamming the Liberals over their carbon tax, Mr. Poilievre didn’t explain how his party’s climate plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the Globe notes. “The Conservatives have proposed unspecified regulations and tax incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

McKenna responded that the Conservatives “have no real plan to cut emissions and confront what she described as the most challenging issue of the 21st century,” the Globe writes.

“We need more ambition,” she asserted. “Every country in the world needs more ambition.”

McKenna’s reaction was consistent with recent analysis by Simon Fraser University climate and sustainability specialist Mark Jaccard, who concluded the Scheer climate plan would put Canada 100 megatonnes farther behind its carbon reduction target under the 2015 Paris Agreement, and by Alberta economist Andrew Leach, who found the plan too vague and “cloaked in mystery” to properly assess.

“The strength in our plan requires companies to actually redirect money to green technology that will clean up their company and industry instead of just generating more money for the government to spend,” Poilievre said.

“Pierre Poilievre is the same as Doug Ford, which is the same as Andrew Scheer, which is that this generation of Conservatives; they don’t understand that we need to take action on climate change,” McKenna shot back. “This is going to be an extremely important election,” and “I hope that to the extent that you care about your planet, you care about a sustainable future, all the young people that are the largest voting bloc, you think very carefully about your choices.”Hankering for the latest federal election news? The Energy Mix has got you covered with our Special Report on Canada’s Climate Change Election. We’ve pulled together all the pertinent news to date, and will continue updating the feed until all the votes are counted.