Made-in-Manitoba carbon tax plan not ready

Fuel prices will rise under a new federal carbon tax plan but provinces have the option to impose their own. Manitoba's scheme, however, isn't ready.

Pallister promises choice between 'Trudeau tax' and made-in-Manitoba scheme, but no details revealed yet

Manitoba's carbon price scheme isn't ready, but fuel prices will rise in any case. (CBC News )

The federal government released background details Thursday about what its carbon price scheme will look like, but a local "made-in-Manitoba" alternative isn't ready for consumption.

Ottawa's plan is structured to ensure the provinces put a price on carbon starting next year, and outlines how the federal government will impose that price in provinces that don't do it themselves.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan were holdouts last year in signing a federal climate change plan.

With details now out on a framework for carbon pricing, the focus shifted to provinces such as Manitoba that do not have a plan in place. Premier Brian Pallister says more consultation and work is needed before his government will share its own scheme with the public.

"We'll need to get more detail before we release our plan. I'll let Manitobans have their say on whether they want the Trudeau tax or they want a made-in-Manitoba plan," Pallister told reporters Thursday.

Premier Brian Pallister wants credit for massive investments made here in green hydroelectric power. (CBC News )

The federal government has set an initial price of $10 a tonne on carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, increasing to $50 a tonne by 2022.

A carbon tax of $10 a tonne on gasoline would require an extra 2.33 cents per litre added at the pumps, increasing to 11.63 cents per litre by 2022. 

Pallister says Manitoba will do its part to fight climate change and acknowledges that will involve increasing costs for carbon-emitting fuel. But he says the province has more negotiating to do and wants credit for massive investments made here in green hydroelectric power.

"Those are significant investments in a green economy that we've made that other provinces have not. In fact, we've made some of the largest investments of any Canadians in terms of a green economy," Pallister said.

The premier acknowledged one possibility in a Manitoba scheme would involve the re-investment of carbon tax revenue in Manitoba Hydro to improve its financial situation and ease looming rate increases for electricty.

The NDP Opposition says the Pallister government has been too slow to release its carbon price plan.

NDP environment critic Rob Altemeyer says Brian Pallister 'has been all over the map in terms of global warming.' (CBC News )

"The premier has been all over the map in terms of global warming," said NDP environment critic Rob Altemeyer.

"His government has said two times in a row in their throne speeches they are going to bring in this made-in-Manitoba approach to climate and then in the budget speeches to follow, which is supposed to implement your throne speech, they don't even mention the word." 

Pallister said his government has received extensive feedback from Manitobans on a climate change plan but more needs to be done.

Following the 2016 election, the PC government hired campaign manager David McLaughlin to help craft a Manitoba climate change scheme. McLaughlin has recently taken on the Tory government's communications strategy as well. 

Pallister was asked if the Manitoba solution would be ready by early summer, late summer or in the fall.

His response was, "That's probably right."