PEI

4 Island parties present plans for carbon tax, emissions reductions

On Monday, Environment Minister Richard Brown, Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, PC environment critic Brad Trivers and NDP Leader Joe Byrne discussed their party's platforms during a carbon-pricing roundtable.

Representatives from each party joined CBC News for a roundtable discussion on carbon pricing

PC MLA and environment critic Brad Trivers, Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, Environment Minister Richard Brown and NDP Leader Joe Byrne joined CBC's Mitch Cormier for a roundtable discussion on carbon pricing. (CBC)

With so many questions around carbon pricing, what are the strategies of P.E.I.'s major political parties?

On Monday, Environment Minister Richard Brown, Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, PC environment critic Brad Trivers and NDP Leader Joe Byrne discussed their party's platforms during a carbon pricing roundtable with CBC News.

Here's where the four parties stand.

Liberals: Reduce oil consumption by reducing electric rates

Richard Brown says if the federal government wants to impose a carbon tax 'then it can.' (CBC)

Earlier this year, Brown announced he was taking the fight to Ottawa to oppose a carbon tax for the province because P.E.I. is already on a path to cut its emissions significantly and doesn't need carbon pricing.

"If the objective here is to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, we have a plan to do that," Brown said.

"The plan here is to reduce electricity rates in order for people to afford heat pumps and change over to renewable energy."

Regarding heat pumps, Brown said "applications are flooding in," to take advantage of rebates for heat pumps and there will be more advertising to encourage Islanders to buy and install heat pumps in their homes.

"The heat pumps have proven to be a lot more efficient than oil," he said.

With an electric cable to New Brunswick and "world-class wind farms," he said P.E.I. is already working to drastically reduce greenhouse gases. "We are on a path to no oil on Prince Edward Island," he said.

Although, at the end of the day, Brown said if the federal government wants to impose a carbon tax "then it can." 

PCs: 'Our goal is to not have a carbon tax'

If Ottawa forces a tax on the province, Brad Trivers says the PCs would adjust for that by raising the basic personal tax amount to give money back to Islanders. (CBC)

"To make immediate gains on reducing greenhouse gases … we need to focus on stationary combustion sources," Trivers said. "That's how we're actually going to be able to make the reduction. Along with that, we have to cut the amount of dirty power we're using on the Island."

Trivers said the Island has to focus more on producing local, clean, renewable energy and to avoid a carbon tax altogether.

Although, he added, if Ottawa forces a tax on the province the PCs would adjust for it by raising the basic personal tax amount to give money back to Islanders. 

"If we are forced by the federal Liberal government to implement a carbon tax, then we want to give it back in as simple fashion as possible with the least amount of administration, things like raising the basic personal tax amount.

"Our goal is not to have a carbon tax."

Greens: Ottawa funding 'in jeopardy' without P.E.I.'s own plan

During the roundtable discussion, Bevan-Baker repeatedly encouraged the province to have its own plan in place. (CBC)

A carbon pricing plan on P.E.I. is "past due," Bevan-Baker said. "We have known for a long time that we were going to have to deal with carbon pricing, whether we liked it or not."​

Last week, the Greens revealed their carbon pricing strategy, proposing a made-for-P.E.I. plan that is revenue neutral — meaning all tax revenues are returned to taxpayers through rebates and other tax cuts, the strategy said.

During the roundtable discussion, Bevan-Baker repeatedly encouraged the province to have its own plan in place to ensure that the province gets the $34 million promised by Ottawa through the Low Carbon Economy Fund.

"Without our own plan, that money is in jeopardy.… If we do not have a price on carbon in our plan, provincially, then we risk losing that money," he said. "When we do it ourselves we can protect vulnerable Islanders."

With the Green Party plan, he said, there would be a 0.5 per cent reduction in the small business tax rate. As well, there would be a "carbon pollution dividend," as described in the strategy, which would "provide every Islander, with the exception of top earners, with a quarterly cheque (similar to the HST rebate), regardless of their actual carbon cost."

NDP: Use PNP funds to invest in renewable energies

'Why would we start with a tax and then rebate it all back? We have to invest in alternatives,' Joe Byrne says. (CBC)

To reduce emissions, Byrne said the NDP would focus on implementing a tip-to-tip public transit system and charging stations for the province. As well, he said the party would draw from PNP funds to invest in wind, solar and other renewable energies.

"We have a pool of people that are ready to invest in P.E.I, why wouldn't we allow them to invest in a strategy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions?" he said.

When it comes to implementing changes like a carbon tax, Byrne said the province can't rely on the private sector to meet certain goals.

Without incentives "it's not going to work," he said.

"The objective is not the tax, we can't just cudgel people into saying 'you have to change your behaviours,' there has to be some carrots to these sticks," he added.

"Why would we start with a tax and then rebate it all back? We have to invest in alternatives." 

More P.E.I. news

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.