On Tuesday the Government of Saskatchewan, Canada, passed a bill that shields employees of the province’s energy supplier from penalties if they do not collect carbon tax.
This comes after the Trudeau regime backtracked on years of charging carbon taxes in the face of increasing inflation.
In 2018, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada introduced a broad-based price on carbon pollution. It started modestly at C$20 per ton of emissions and is set to rise to C$170 by 2030.
Canada is one of the few countries that has managed to impose a carbon tax without getting a backlash. The trick Canada deployed was the use of language; to package it as a “price on pollution,” not a tax.
In July 2023, Catherine McKenna – Canada’s Minister for the Environment who was tasked with deploying carbon pricing nationally – joined Bloomberg’s Zero podcast to advise other countries on how to replicate Canada’s introduction of carbon tax.
She said: “If you start off looking at polling, the polling is terrible. If you say, ‘Do you want a carbon tax?’ Terrible, terrible, terrible. What about carbon pricing? A little bit better. What about putting a price on pollution? Better. No longer free to pollute? Best.”
For nearly a decade, Trudeau has repeated the message pollution “should not be free.” But in October 2023, Trudeau and a group of Liberals representing Atlantic Canada announced a three-year pause on the carbon levy for home heating oil. The reason given for the pause was inflationary pressures felt by households.
In September, Trudeau ordered grocery executives to “stabilise” prices but Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre suggested the Liberal government would be better off eliminating its own carbon tax to lower food costs.
The Bank of Canada said the “carbon price” contributed about 0.15% to inflation overall. There is no clear figure for groceries. While the tax is not applied directly to food, and the bulk of “carbon emissions” from the agricultural sector are exempted, the tax can still indirectly raise the costs of production and transportation of food.
While the federal government’s three-year pause on carbon tax charged on home heating oil is nationwide, the vast majority of heating oil is used in the Atlantic region by lower-income residents.
On 30 October, in response to the federal government’s three-year pause, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced that the Saskatchewan government would instruct SaskEnergy, a Crown Corporation, to stop collecting the carbon tax on natural gas beginning 1 January 2024 unless the federal government granted an exemption for this home heating source from the carbon tax.
On 31 October, Minister of Crown Corporations Dustin Duncan stated the government was exploring options to shield SaskEnergy officials from potential repercussions or actions taken by the federal government for not collecting the carbon tax.
SaskEnergy Incorporated is a Crown Corporation of the Saskatchewan government. It is responsible for delivering and selling natural gas to more than 405,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada.