Farm fuel to be exempt from Manitoba carbon tax

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, shown here in April 2016. (Dave Bedard photo)

Farm fuel will be exempt from a carbon tax, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said in an interview Thursday on the eve of announcing his government’s Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan.

“It does exempt some farm costs — farm fuel, for example,” he said. “I know we’ll get pushback from some industry groups that are not agriculture. But the farmer is in a different situation. For the most part they are a taker of international price. They don’t have the ability to raise a fee or a levy on a customer so it would handcuff the ag community to a degree.

“I also know… initiatives that farm families have taken to green up their place, to clean up the environment. We could talk about the benefits of zero-till just as one example. There are many, many farm families in this province that are the reason we’re the greenest province in the country right now. And I am asking for respect from the federal government on this issue.”

The news is sure to be welcomed by Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP), the province’s general farm organization, which has asked for agriculture to be exempt from a direct carbon tax on fuel used to produce crops and livestock.

Pallister and Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires will release the plan, more than a year in the making, at Oak Hammock Marsh near Stonewall on Friday.

Although Manitobans will have an opportunity to help shape some aspects of the plan, Pallister said he’s certain it plan will be better than the federal government’s.

“We just can’t sit back and say no. If we do say no we get Mr. Trudeau. That’s the threat from Ottawa.”

As part of Canada’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions in the battle to slow climate change the federal government says it will impose a $50/tonne carbon tax, starting at $10 in 2018 and peaking by 2022, if provinces don’t do it themselves.

“We have a plan that we will be announcing tomorrow with Manitoba specific priorities in mind, essentially designed by Manitobans for our situation, respectful of our green record,” Pallister said Thursday.

In a previous interview he said Manitoba’s plan will recognize the contribution Manitobans have made to reducing carbon emissions by investing in hydroelectricity, which is nearly emissions-free.

A leaked document suggests Manitoba’s plan will include a $25/tonne carbon tax — half of what Ottawa wants imposed by 2022. Pallister has declined to comment on that report.

“We are dedicated environmentalists,” he said. “Each and every one of us knows the threats of climate change. Each of us understand also that we’re stewards for the resources entrusted to us for the generation and those who follow thereafter. We understand the intergenerational obligation we have towards sustainability.”

Pallister said concerned citizens were able to get the federal government to revise its controversial tax reforms and Manitobans might be called again to defend the province’s climate plan.

“If the federal government doesn’t like our plan and they come down and try to invoke theirs,” he said, “I am going to need Manitobans to stand up and say ‘Hold it, we’ve got a plan that is better.'”

Pallister said also his government will be accountable for its plan, which he described as “a realistic, balanced strategy that balances the sustainability needs for our economy with our environment… You can’t deal with one and ignore the other.

“We need to marry the prospects of a made-in-Manitoba plan for both the economy and the environment and we have it and it is going to work better than the federal plan. I am confident of that.”

— Allan Dawson is a reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator at Miami, Man. Follow him at @AllanReporter on Twitter.

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