Published in Winnipeg Free Press
Premier Brian Pallister has released his government’s long-awaited “made in Manitoba” climate and green plan. While there is room for improvement, it is a solid start for Manitoba on climate policy, and one with important implications across the country.
Pallister’s plan is the first time that a Conservative government has introduced a broad-based carbon price in Canada. While B.C. and Quebec brought in carbon pricing under the centre-right governments of Gordon Campbell and Jean Charest, their parties were labelled “Liberal,” and Alberta’s former PC government had only a limited carbon price regime for large emitters.
The politics of carbon pricing have become more polarized across the country since then, with most Conservatives lining up against it. But here we have a Progressive Conservative government, led by a former Stephen Harper MP, bringing in a carbon tax. This shows that you can be a Conservative and still care about climate change and the environment.
That tax will start at $25 per tonne, which is the highest initial rate of any carbon price in Canada. True, the plan does not anticipate any increase in prices over the first five years, but by starting at a relatively high price Manitoba has indicated that it is serious about pricing carbon and reducing emissions.