Erin O’Toole says the Liberals’ carbon price won’t automatically get scrapped if he is prime minister

Erin O’Toole says the Liberals’ carbon price won’t automatically get scrapped if he is prime minister
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OTTAWA—Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says his party’s version of the carbon price on fuel would not automatically replace the existing levy that sparked resistance from Ontario Premier Doug Ford and other Conservatives across the country.

In a virtual sit-down with the Star’s editorial board on Tuesday, O’Toole said the Conservative carbon price is meant as an “alternative” to the existing system and that provinces where the current scheme applies — like Ontario — would get to decide whether to adopt the new one.

He did not say when the Conservative system would be ready, only that an O’Toole government would seek to engage provinces on the subject “very quickly.”

“This is something that Ontario might embrace, but I don’t speak for the province,” O’Toole said Tuesday. “We would offer them a plan to transition to this approach that would not be a federal carbon tax.”

The Conservative platform says the party would “scrap” the existing consumer carbon price, which the Liberals implemented through a 2018 law that spawned staunch opposition from federal Conservatives and like-minded provinces. Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan joined forces to challenge the policy all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in March that the federal carbon price was constitutional.

At the time, O’Toole also vowed to scrap “ Justin Trudeau ’s Carbon Tax” if his party won the next election .

Now, the policy his party is proposing is a different version of the existing Liberal carbon pricing system.

Instead of increasing the fuel levy from $40 per tonne of emissions this year to $170 per tonne in 2030, as the Liberals propose, O’Toole’s levy would max-out at $50 per tonne.

The Conservatives would also replace the current system’s rebates — which are sent as flat payments to households — with a rewards-style “Personal Low Carbon Savings Account” that allows people to use all the money they pay through the levy on “green” purchases like bicycles or an energy-efficient furnace.

That means, instead of receiving $300 this year no matter how much fuel they burn, a single adult in Ontario would get to use all of the money they pay through the levy on government-approved purchases.

The other component of the federal carbon price, the special system for heavy-polluting industries, would remain the same under the Conservative plan, though their platform says the party would only allow this industrial carbon price to rise to $170 per tonne — as the Liberals pledge — if that falls in line with policies among key trading partners like the United States and European Union.

Earlier Tuesday in Richmond, B.C., Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau continued to criticize the Conservatives’ climate plan, which would revert to Canada’s weaker emissions target for 2030. Trudeau also seized upon O’Toole’s praise for the defunct Northern Gateway oil pipeline that would have traversed northern B.C., and pointed out the Conservatives pledge to reverse the Liberal government’s ban on oil tanker exports from the northern coast of the province.

“That’s the wrong choice for British Columbians, that’s the wrong choice for Canadians,” Trudeau said. “Mr. O’Toole is laying out a vision of this country that would take us back.”

Trudeau also tried to lure NDP supporters concerned about climate change, positioning his Liberals as the sole party progressives can trust to prevent the Conservatives from weakening federal climate policies.

“We are the ones that can stop the Conservatives from getting elected and taking us back on climate,” Trudeau said.
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