On April 4th, Premier Pallister was interviewed by Vassy Kapelos for the CBC program Power and Politics about his government’s decision to take the federal government to court over its imposition of a carbon tax in Manitoba. His stated reason for doing so was the inconsistent application of performance criteria by the federal government on provinces. At one point in the interview, he said, “Why give off-shore exemptions for Newfoundland and no credits for hydro-electric investments in Manitoba.” If the province proceeds with legal action against the federal government, the truth of this assertion will be tested by the courts.
However, the accuracy of other claims made by the premier in the interview can be tested against facts available to us now. There are several which simply do not stand up to the evidence. One is his boast that Manitoba is the greenest jurisdiction in the country; viz. “We are the greenest jurisdiction in Canada” and, “Manitoba has been one of the greenest jurisdictions for the longest time”. There are three facts which prove this claim false, all taken from the annual National Inventory Reports of greenhouse gas emissions prepared by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ELCCC) for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). First, between 2005 and 2017, Manitoba’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions grew by 7.4 per cent, the 3rd highest rate in Canada. By comparison, in six provinces (B.C., Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and PEI) the amount of GHG emissions fell by an average of 17.3 per cent. Second, on a per capita basis, Manitoba’s GHG emissions were 5th highest in 2017 at 16,217 ktCO2eq per million population; and, per billion dollars of GDP, its emissions were 5th highest at 358 ktCO2eq. By comparison, on both of these indicators, Quebec is the greenest province in Canada with GHG emissions of only 9,292 ktCO2eq per million population and 224 ktCO2eq per Billion dollars of GDP.
A second falsehood perpetrated by Mr. Pallister in the interview was the claim that, “According to our experts, our plan will work better than the federal plan.” Yet, according to the R-GEEM modeling study commissioned by Manitoba in the preparation of its Climate and Green Plan report, by 2021, GHG emissions under Manitoba’s proposed flat $25 per tonne carbon tax will lag those produced by the gradually increasing federal carbon tax by 13 ktCO2eq; and, by 2023, cumulative emissions reductions under the federal plan will equal those achieved by the flat Manitoba carbon tax and then exceed them for the following years out to 2030. So, only for the first 3 years of its proposed 15-year green plan will the Manitoba flat carbon tax outperform the federal carbon tax.
In addition, Mr. Pallister failed to mention that the second GHG modeling study commissioned by the Province (by EC-PRO) clearly shows that without a continually increasing carbon tax beyond 2022, GHG emissions will rise in Manitoba due to the effects of a growing economy and population. Only by a continuous annual increase of $10 per tonne in the carbon tax will it be possible to offset the impact of a rising GDP on GHG emissions.
A third misrepresentation of the facts committed by Mr. Pallister was his assertion that the “76 of the 77 pages (of its Climate and Green Plan report) we’re working on right now is more stringent that the one the federal plan proposes.” It is a false claim because, on page 16 of the “A Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan” report, he is comparing the reductions achieved by both the $25 per tonne flat tax plus a range of complementary initiatives with just the federal increasing carbon tax with no complementary measures. When one includes both the federal carbon tax and the complementary measures, the advantage disappears; and, over the full 15 years of the Manitoba plan (2018 to 2032), the combined federal carbon tax plus complementary measures outperforms the Manitoba flat carbon tax.
So, in sum, Mr. Pallister is misleading the Manitoba public about the superiority of his GHG reduction plan. Manitoba is far from being the greenest province in Canada. That honour belongs to Quebec. Manitoba’s flat carbon tax will not outperform the federal sliding tax over the full 15 years of its proposed plan. By 2021, GHG annual emissions will be higher with the flat tax and the cumulative emissions will continue to increase.
*This editorial was written by Harvey Stevens