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

Penticton Indian Band returns to the polls

The PIB is going to a byelection to fill empty seats on band council

Barker brings a mix of comedy and magic to Dream Café

Wes Barker is performing in Penticton on Nov. 24

Fintry Queen still looking for a home

Fintry Queen owner wants the tourist vessel in the Penticton Parks and Rec master plan discussions

Thefts from residences under investigation

Penticton RCMP are investigating two thefts from residences

Major grant bolsters Penticton doctors research on pain

Local research team is headed by Penticton rheumatologist

Tattooing couple opens new shop in Lake Country

Cody and Fabiana Philpott opened NSI Tattoo in August

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Vigil held for woman whose remains were found on Shuswap farm

Family and friends remember Vernon resident Traci Genereaux and along with five other missing women

LETTER: Jumbo Valley is part of Ktunaxa territorial claim

Ktunaxa Nation Council responds to Tom Fletcher column

3,800-plant grow-op busted on First Nation reserve

Three men face charges after RCMP bust a large drug operation on the Soowahlie Reserve near Chilliwack

VIDEO: Government approves funding of $750,000 drug for B.C. woman

Approval comes one day after province announces funding for Soliris on a case-by-case basis

B.C. boy’s social media bid to get levidrome in the Oxford dictionary goes viral

‘It’s been five weeks and has totally blown up today.’

Whistler venues could see 2026 Olympic action

Calgary is looking to cut down on costs

Michael Buble announced as 2018 Juno host in Vancouver

Awards will celebrate Canadian talent in March

Most Read