The Current

'Time to put a price on pollution': Environment minister defends carbon pricing ultimatum

The Liberal's plan for carbon pricing is being criticized from all sides. Environmentalists consider it a paltry effort at addressing climate change. But Canada's environment minister says this issue is not a polarized debate and it's time for a solution.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says carbon pricing is not a polarized debate. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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The Liberal government has announced that the price on carbon pollution should start at a minimum of $10 per tonne in 2018, rising to $50 in 2022.

Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador walked out of climate talks after the announcement with one dubbing the plan, "National Energy Program 2.0."

All we're saying is it's time to pick a lane — figure out what makes sense for your province.- Environment Minister Catherine McKenna
Saskatchewan Environment Minister Scott Moe leaves early from a meeting of Canadian environment ministers in Montreal, Oct. 3, 2016. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti it was unfortunate three governments decided to leave climate talks and says Canadians want to understand how they can be part of a solution.

"I believe in talking. I think that's a better way to move forward. I think Canadians expect that." 

McKenna tells Tremonti that the plan proposed shouldn't be a surprise to anyone and says a recent poll shows "a majority of Canadians have said it's time to take to put a price on pollution."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced angry critics on both sides when he announced his carbon pricing plan, Oct. 3, 2016. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
"So basically all we're saying is it's time to pick a lane — figure out what makes sense for your province and you decide what you do with the revenues."

Several provinces do have carbon pricing, but the Liberals say Ottawa will impose a carbon price on any jurisdiction that doesn't have its own in motion by 2018.    

"This is not a polarized debate," says McKenna.

"There was a poll where the majority of Canadians want to put a price on pollution. They want sensible measures. They want to see concrete action."

"Look politics is always going to be politics. But we're really focused on solutions."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, Lara O'Brien, Sujata Berry and Julian Uzielli.

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