Manitoba claims Ottawa threatening climate change funding

The rhetoric over carbon taxes between Manitoba and the federal government continues as Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires says she "has reason to believe" that Ottawa will pull 67 million dollars in funding from an agreement signed earlier this year.

Disagreement over carbon tax plan continues as $67 million in climate change funding sits in the balance

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires accuses the federal Liberal government of "talking out of both sides of its mouth." (Warren Kaye/CBC )

Polar opposite views about carbon taxes could threaten the flow of federal money for projects to fight climate change.

That is the assertion made by Manitoba Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires on Friday.

Earlier this week the federal government announced a carbon tax plan for provinces without their own levies on fuel.

Premier Brian Pallister scrapped his government's $25-a-tonne carbon tax at the beginning of October, saying Ottawa refused to negotiate a deal.

Money for electric buses, retrofitting diesel trucks and diverting organics from landfills are among some of the projects that could lose support from the federal government.

Squires says the two governments had an agreement under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change that triggered funding for 15 initiatives despite the disagreement on carbon taxes.

"Now we are receiving threatening and very mixed messages. We are judging the Liberals by their actions and not their words. They have been saying a variety of contradictory messages and talking out of both sides of their mouth," Squires told reporters.

Manitoba was scheduled to receive just under $67 million from the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund.

Caroline Theriault, a spokesperson for Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of Environment and Climate Change, responded to a request for comment to Squires' statement saying, "There is currently no agreement between Manitoba and our government on LCEF."

Yes or no on negotiations?

The war of words between the two governments appears to have left little room for dialogue, though the Ottawa appears to have opened the door a crack.

A statement from federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc says his government has been working for two years with the provinces to put a price on pollution, but will still entertain Manitoba's input.

"Our government would of course be open to working with Premier Pallister in the fight against climate change. If the premier would like to reconsider rescinding Manitoba's proposal, we would give that due consideration, and take another serious look at what Manitoba has proposed," LeBlanc said in a written statement.

Squires told reporters her office has had no dialogue with Ottawa whatsoever, though the main channel of communication between the two governments would go through Premier Brian Pallister.

NDP Opposition Leader Wab Kinew urged both sides to set aside their differences and hammer out some type of deal.

"There is still an opportunity to have a deal.  Let's make a deal. Let's have the premier get back to the negotiating table. Let's have the federal government provide reassurances this money is still on the table. Let's do right by the environment here in Manitoba," Kinew said.

Manitoba released its own Climate and Green Plan a year ago. It contains many of the programs that would receive funding from the federal government 's Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund.

The PC government has put none of Manitoba's initiatives in the plan into practice, nor has it publicly costed them out or set a schedule for their start times.