Should carbon pricing fall to provinces, regions, or the feds?

Some provinces, like B.C., would prefer to be able to regulate carbon pricing on their own terms, while others have called for a national carbon pricing framework. Trevor McLeod of the Canada West Foundation weighs in with his thoughts.
(Seth Perlman/Associated Press)

Canada is often a target at climate change rallies, in part because we do not have a national carbon policy. But provinces like B.C. say it's better that way-- that provinces should be left to lead on carbon pricing and regulation. Trevor McLeod agrees. The director of the Centre for Natural Resources Policy at the Canada West Foundation says it's best for provinces to write their own policy, and that western premiers in particular are positioned to work together on a regional, and eventually national, framework. 

McLeod says there are many reasons that provinces are best in this area: they tend to be protective of natural resource ownership, environment is a shared jurisdiction under the Constitution, and differences among provincial economies make a one-size-fits-all approach impractical. 

He says the New West Partnership, an organization made up of B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan, is the best place to start "stitching together" a national framework. In his eyes, there could be a uniform price on carbon which each province would apply in its own way. Because the western premiers already work together, they could get the ball rolling, and eventually send it across the country.

There's a benefit in coming up with carbon pricing that is linked somehow....I think it behooves us to work together, probably regionally first, and then ultimately get a nicely stitched together patchwork quilt across the country.- Trevor McLeod, Canada West Foundation

He acknowledges that, in order to convince the rest of the world that Canada is serious about tackling climate change, there would need to be a national element to the strategy: "It has to be branded as the Canadian approach because, frankly, no one's that concerned about what any one particular province in the country does." 

McLeod thinks we could see a national plan as early as this summer, when the Council of the Federation (the Canadian Premiers) has its annual summer meeting. 


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