The top issue this week – for both the Ottawa and the Canadian conversation – is the Liberal government’s carbon pricing plan. Trudeau told the provinces that they either choose to shape up, or they’ll be forced to shape up, in terms of the environment. Basically, provinces have to implement either a cap and trade or a carbon levy that meets the minimum requirements set by the federal government by 2018. That minimum is $10 a tonne for 2018 and the price will rise each year to reach $50 a tonne by 2022. Cue certain provinces being upset that the federal government is imposing on provincial regulation. Cue Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall posting to Facebook to express his disappointment in Trudeau. Cue certain people in provinces feeling like rural populations will be unfairly taxed in comparison to city dwellers. Of course all of this is, in part, due to Canada’s commitments laid out by the Paris climate agreement. We have to cut our emissions from our 2005 levels by 30% by 2030.
Issue number two for the week is BC LNG. The government conditionally approved a mega liquefied natural gas project. The $36-billion deal would ship 19 million tonnes of LNG. While Rona Ambrose was skeptical of the approval, noting that there will be many more consultations before construction is actually underway, the political reception was fairly positive. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley took the announcement as good news: if the federal government is willing to approve this project, there may be other pipeline projects to follow. As we note on the show, the timing of this announcement works to the Liberal government’s favour. By combining this with the carbon tax news, it covers its bases with both environmental concerns and economic growth.
Our last issue for this week is provincial health care transfers. Trudeau’s government has built its reputation on collaboration and cooperation. However, the ministers aren’t feeling the team love when it comes to health care transfers. The government is following the Harper government’s model, financing 3% of provincial health care, which many of the provinces feel is inadequate to provide quality care to their aging populations. They want to meet with the Prime Minister, but so far he’s playing hard to get. Again, the provinces feel like the federal government is imposing. Currently, health care transfers come with strings: the funding must go to certain initiatives. Initiatives like home services, rather than hospital services. Ministers want to talk this out and revaluate these strings and the dollar amounts associated, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s penciling anything into their calendars any time soon.