Saskatchewan finance minister on carbon tax and why the U.S. is so important to the province
Saskatchewan’s finance minister has a clear message to the federal government when it comes to its planned carbon tax: Not now.
“We are not interested in the nationally-imposed carbon tax by the federal government in the province of Saskatchewan,” provincial Finance Minister Kevin Doherty told BNN on Monday.
“We think it’s deleterious to our economy. We think at a time like this when we’re just starting to see some rebound in our provincial economy … an energy-producing province, not unlike Alberta or Newfoundland and Labrador, that now is not the time to impose a carbon tax.”
Doherty joined BNN from Ottawa where his provincial counterparts have gathered with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau to discuss issues including Canada-U.S. trade and taxing cannabis.
The Liberal government’s proposed national carbon tax is set to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. Doherty questioned the tax’s effectiveness for punishing polluters.
“What program is [a carbon tax] designed to fund? If it’s to change behaviour, we’ve seen across jurisdictions that have imposed a carbon tax in the past that it has not changed behaviour. So we just think it’s the wrong policy at the wrong time for our economy.”
Instead, Doherty believes the government should focus its energy on maneuvering the sometimes choppy-waters of Canada’s trading relationship with the United States and its current administration.
“I’m far more interested in talking today about trade and our trade relationship with the United States and the strategy of the federal government in dealing with the United States,” he said. “We’re an export-oriented province, we rely heavily on our commodities sector to help provide finances for our economy .”
Doherty said Saskatchewan did $13 billion in trade directly with the United States last year and added that he’s been “impressed” with Canada’s strategy thus far; he added that continuing the dialogue needs to remain a priority.
“We’ve been very impressed by the federal government’s approach to dealing with the United States and under this current administration… we believe that the strategy that the government has taken to date is working well,” he said, adding that factual dialogue needs to continue between the provinces and the Canadian government, the provinces themselves and particularly with the current U.S. administration and the individual U.S. states that serve as Canada’s trading partners.
“I think it is important for our federal government to continue to push forward with facts outlining exactly what our trading relationship means for both countries … When they have those kinds of conversations with the lawmakers in the United States - to point out the facts - it’s a very different conversation.”