Saskatchewan was a thorn in Justin Trudeau's side on fossil fuels, but now B.C. is

Saskatchewan was a thorn in Justin Trudeau's side on fossil fuels, but now B.C. is
From Global News - August 10, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lost the harshest critic of his plan to impose a carbon tax with Brad Walls surprise announcement Thursday that hes retiring as Saskatchewans premier.

But just as Trudeau pulled that persistent thorn from his right side, he was stabbed in the left side by another thorn as British Columbias fledgling NDP government unveiled plans to block construction of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline.

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The twin announcements underscored the political teeter-totter Trudeau has been riding as he attempts to prove its possibleindeed necessary, in his opinionto simultaneously combat climate change and build new pipeline capacity to get western Canadas fossil fuels to tidewater.

Wall has threatened to go to court to prevent the federal government from imposing a carbon tax of $10 per tonnerising to $50 in 2022on provinces that dont implement a carbon pricing regime of their own by next year.

Saskatchewan is the only province that has flat-out refused to even consider carbon pricing, which Wall maintains would devastate the provinces already struggling oil and gas industry.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain Pipeline is not in B.C.s best interest, says BC NDP government

While his successor will doubtless carry on the crusade, along with federal Conservatives led by fellow Saskatchewanian Andrew Scheer, Wall has been the most articulate and highest-profile opponent of the scheme with a knack for simplifying the complicated issue. For instance, hes summed up the federal carbon tax plan as a ransom note.

He was a fierce defender of Saskatchewan and western Canada on this critical issue so it is a loss in that sense, Conservative Sen. Denise Batters, a long-time friend and supporter, said in an interview.

Just how much relief Walls departure will give the Trudeau government on the carbon pricing front remains to be seen.

Whenever a person who has cut such a large figure, certainly in Saskatchewan politics but also on the national scene, when a person of that longevity and strength decides to make a break and go do something else, its obviously a major change, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who holds the Liberals only seat in Saskatchewan, said in an interview.

What will result from that, who the successor will be, how it will affect the policy debate about various issues from time to time remains to be seen.

Goodale praised Walls unquestioned passion for Saskatchewan and pointed out that, apart from the climate change file, he has worked co-operatively with the federal Liberals on a host of other issues: health care, child care, infrastructure, softwood lumber and the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.


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