Canada Conservatives Shun Carbon Price to Shield Fragile Economy

Canada will avoid a national price on carbon to protect a “fragile” economy from higher costs for gasoline and groceries, Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said.

The governing Conservative Party is opposing Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau’s plan for a nationally mandated price on carbon because it would place “punitive costs” on the Canadian economy, Rickford said in a speech in Calgary on Thursday. Canada should coordinate carbon policy with major trading partners like the U.S., the minister said.

“Justin Trudeau would instead have Canada move unilaterally on emissions, out of step with our trading partners, regardless of the impact that would have our economic competitiveness,” Rickford said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has failed to implement carbon emissions regulations for Canada’s oil and natural gas industry, the country’s fastest-growing source of the greenhouse gas. The Canadian leader in January said it would be “crazy” to consider regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions from the energy sector during a period of sharply lower oil prices.

Crude oil, Canada’s biggest export, is trading below $50 a barrel, less than half the price in June.

Trudeau’s plan would be developed in partnership with Canada’s provincial and territorial governments and would give those governments the flexibility to design their own policies to achieve emissions reduction targets, the Liberal leader said in February in Calgary.

A federal election is scheduled for Oct. 19. Harper in 2008 made his opposition to a national carbon tax, proposed by then-Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, one of the main themes of his campaign, which resulted in the Conservatives winning a minority government.

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