A federal Liberal government would harmonize the party's Green Shift proposal with British Columbia's existing provincial carbon tax, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion pledged on Tuesday.
It comes a day after Dion unveiled the costed proposal, which calls for income-tax cuts paid for by taxing carbon fuels, as part of his party's platform for the Oct. 14 federal election campaign.
In an address to the Burnaby Board of Trade, the Liberal leader insisted the plan would benefit all provinces by creating a profitable, sustainable economy and reducing Canada's dependence on fossil fuels.
Dion's plan faces a tough sell to voters in B.C. who are already contending with a provincial carbon tax that kicked in on July 1 and added 2.3 cents to the price of a litre of gasoline.
But Dion said he and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell "share the same goals," while noting that he served as intergovernmental affairs minister for eight years and knows how to negotiate with provinces to find a solution.
Dion added the two plans were not identical, which would make it easier to harmonize them.
"I’m very confident that we’ll be able to harmonize the two plans in an optimal way, both for the economy of British Columbia and the fight against climate change in British Columbia," he said.
In previous campaign appearances, Dion has faced questions from the province's residents, who have expressed concern about taking an unfair "double hit" at B.C. gas stations.
"We are not taxing at the pumps because we already have an excise tax at the federal level," Dion said.
Dion was campaigning Tuesday in one of the areas in B.C. where Liberals hope to pilfer seats from the New Democrats. Liberals currently hold seven of the 36 seats in B.C.
The Conservatives have attacked the Green Shift, insisting the plan would raise the cost of living for Canadians and could push the country into recession.
On Monday night, Dion was accosted over his party's platform during a town hall appearance in the Alberta riding of Calgary-Northeast.
A man began his question to Dion by saying, "I've never voted Liberal in my life, but I'm willing to give it a try."
The crowd of 500 cheered and clapped, and Dion leaned to listen. Within seconds, though, the man transformed, asking Dion why the Liberals should be "allowed to rape the economy of Alberta, to take our resources like Pierre Elliott Trudeau did under the National Energy Program, to rape our resources and send them back to Ontario to a bunch of people that don't want to work."
As the crowd booed loudly, Dion responded by thanking the man for his question.
"You are welcome here, but I think Ontarians are very hard-working people," the Liberal leader replied. "Albertans too."
The crowd then cheered, drowning out the man, who continued to yell, "Go home!"
Dion has pledged that his party would never lead Canada back into a fiscal deficit and that the Green Shift would give most Canadians a 10 per cent income-tax cut.