HASH(0xb5d664)

Wall criticizes attempt to link carbon policy with provincial transfer payments

Wall critical of carbon policy link to funding

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says any attempt by Ottawa to link transfer money with a province’s carbon tax policy would be a serious attack on federal-provincial relations.

Wall says memos obtained by the online publication Blacklock’s Reporter show the federal government intends to tie a province’s stance on carbon tax to equalization renegotiations.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Wall says that would violate the principles of fiscal federalism and he calls the threat unacceptable.

“I’m also asking him … to release the unredacted version of these internal memos so all the provinces know what we’re dealing with here,” Wall said Monday at the legislature.

“I think this is very serious. If the federal government is now saying, ‘Look, if you don’t support us here, you won’t get any of this money,’ to which all provinces are entitled to on a formula, well that’s less like how to run a federation and more like how you run a crime family.”

Equalization is a federal program that transfers money to poorer provinces so they can offer government services at similar levels across the country.

Wall argues Saskatchewan’s resource-based economy has contributed more than $5 billion to equalization over the last decade, while receiving nothing in payments.

Saskatchewan officials are contacting the federal government to find out what’s being considered, he said.

“First of all, the fact that it would be mused about even is a concern to me, that there’s someone in the Department of Finance â€” and I have to think it wouldn’t be without license from someone very senior â€” who’s thinking about, well, should equalization payments be tied to some province’s support of a specific federal Liberal policy,” said Wall.

“That kind of discussion shouldn’t even be happening, never mind in the senior levels at the Department of Finance.”

He said he’s also concerned about other transfer payments including for health, education and infrastructure funding.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s office tried to ease Wall’s concerns in a statement on Monday.

“The issue of pricing carbon pollution is unrelated to the federal government’s continual engagement with the provinces on the topic of equalization. Linking the two is not a conversation we are having with the provinces,” she said in the email.

Wall said he’s pleased to hear McKenna’s assurances, but her comments don’t address other types of federal payments, such as infrastructure funding.

Trudeau has said all provinces must set up a cap-and-trade system or impose a price on carbon of at least $10 per tonne starting next year, which  would increase to $50 by 2022, or Ottawa will do it for them.

Eleven provinces and territories agreed to the carbon price plan in December when they signed the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba did not.

McKenna told The Canadian Press last week that negotiations with the two provinces have continued.

Wall said Saskatchewan will continue to oppose any attempt by the federal government to impose a carbon tax on Saskatchewan.

“Meet us in court,” said Wall.

“My point to the federal government is, if they think they have the constitutional authority to impose a carbon tax on one or a couple of provinces, then go ahead, bring it forward and we will take this to court. We’re reasonably optimistic about our chances and if they are too, that should be their final vindication.”

Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Team B.C. wins the 2017 WHL Cup

The team features Surrey natives and Valley West Hawks forwards Justin Sourdif and Cameron MacDonald

Death and dessert: North Delta library to host end-of-life discussion group

“I realized it’s just not something that … is really talked about, unless maybe you’re at a funeral.”

Old bikes become new trikes at North Deltas’ Seaquam Secondary

High school students will be using bike parts to make three-wheeled human-powered vehicles

VIDEO: Crash closes Fraser Highway in Langley

One vehicle ends up in ditch, air ambulance called in

Optimist Club has its sights set on Cloverdale

The international club has been helping youth in the community nearly 100 years.

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Holy Heritage Rail Batman: Superheros come to Cloverdale historic train

The Fraser Valley Heritage Rail is hosting its third annual Halloween rail adventure Oct 28, 29

Surrey Eagles prep for road tilt with first-place Vernon Vipers

After a Friday night game against Wenatchee, the Birds take aim at BCHL leaders Saturday

Most Read