Nova Scotia and New Brunswick want carbon pricing axed, tell Freeland during call

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s finance minister says his province and several others made it clear during a virtual call with federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland that the national carbon pricing scheme should be eliminated.

Allan MacMaster says the message was conveyed today despite the fact there was no opportunity during the call for provincial and territorial finance ministers to have a discussion about the issue.

MacMaster says Nova Scotia doesn’t believe the carbon tax creates options for people to move away from fossil fuels, adding that it simply adds to the cost of living in a time of high interest rates and high inflation.

After the virtual meeting, the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta issued a joint news release calling for the end to the program.

Outside the legislature in Fredericton, Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters that the carbon price has failed to help the country meet its emissions targets and should be scrapped.

Higgs says he wants a discussion of the issue added to the agenda for a meeting of provincial and territorial premiers in Halifax, which begins Sunday.

“It’s certainly done a lot to add costs to everyday lives,” the premier said. “Affordability is going to be a big part of that discussion.”

In Halifax Friday, Premier Tim Houston said the carbon pricing scheme wasn't on the agenda but would certainly be discussed.

”It’s time to just eliminate the carbon tax,” Houston told reporters.

The carbon price is intended to make fossil fuels more expensive as an energy source to encourage people to find alternatives; it comes with a rebate, which is issued to Canadians every three months to offset the cost.

In Ottawa, Freeland defended her decision not to discuss carbon pricing during Friday's call, saying the meeting was convened at the request of Ontario to discuss the possibility of Alberta withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan. However, she said she recognizes that there are other issues the provinces and territories are interested in.

“That’s why we have an annual federal-provincial finance ministers meeting that will be happening next month and I look forward to working with ministers on the agenda,” Freeland said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2023.

The Canadian Press