Is government leaving it up to Ottawa to implement a carbon tax? Greens and PCs ask

The Greens and PCs grilled government in the house Wednesday over whether there will be a carbon tax on P.E.I.

Environment minister says P.E.I.'s climate plan is good and it should be accepted by Ottawa

Both the Greens and PCs pressed government on whether it's stalling on bringing in a price on carbon. (Yvon Theriault/CBC)

P.E.I.'s Green Party and Progressive Conservative Party grilled government in the house Wednesday over whether there will be a carbon tax on the Island.

They both questioned whether Ottawa will accept the province's climate change action plan released last week. The plan does not specifically outline a tax on carbon.

The federal government has mandated each province to submit a plan for a price on carbon by this September.

If a plan isn't approved, Ottawa will impose a carbon tax. CBC News has obtained documents through a freedom of information request about how much an imposed tax would be.

CBC also contacted a group of economists who advised the federal government on carbon pricing — Canada's Ecofiscal Commission — and they predict Ottawa will find P.E.I.'s plan insufficient and impose the federal carbon tax on the Island. 

Green Leader Peter-Bevan Baker says he was disappointed that the climate change action plan did not directly discuss the issue of carbon pricing. (Ken Linton/CBC)

"Has this been your plan all along, to force the federal government to impose carbon pricing on Islanders so Liberal MLAs won't have to have an honest conversation with their constituents?" asked Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.

Election date impact on carbon pricing

The province has until Sept. 1 to submit its climate change action plan to Ottawa and the federal government is supposed to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down by November.

Opposition parties see time between those dates for a possible election. If Ottawa did impose its carbon tax on P.E.I., that would come into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

"Minister, will you come clean and admit that you're trying to stall on bringing in a carbon tax until after the next election just like you did with the HST?" asked PC MLA Brad Trivers. 

PC MLA Brad Trivers says he wants government to level with Islanders about what the real plan is for a carbon tax. (Province of P.E.I.)

Environment Minister Richard Brown says the climate change plan is a good one and Ottawa should accept it. 

P.E.I.'s plan will reduce carbon, says environment minister

He says the federal government's objective is to reduce carbon and P.E.I.'s plan will do just that. Brown said the province can reduce emissions through incentives, without having to charge more for oil and gas.

"The federal government's objective is to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. That's number one. We have presented a plan that will reduce carbon in our environment by 600,000 tonnes," Brown said. 

Environment minister Richard Brown says he believes in the climate change action plan that was presented to the federal government. (Randy McAndrew/CBC News)

"We're already down by 200,000 tonnes and we haven't even begun yet. We have a good plan. The federal government wants reductions in carbon in the atmosphere. This plan provides that, and the federal government should accept our plan," Brown said.

He also noted the rebate in the latest budget on the provincial portion of the HST on firewood, wood pellets and propane used for home heating.

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About the Author

Krystalle Ramlakhan

Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.