Canada's Original Think Tank

Carbon Pricing

Carbon Pricing

Carbon Pricing

Carbon Pricing

Published on 14 December 2016
Hansard and Statements by Senator Paul Massicotte

Hon. Paul J. Massicotte:

Minister, I would like to commend you and your government for the excellent program that you put in place last Friday. I wanted to congratulate you because I believe that carbon pricing is a critical issue.

But as you know, you’re only starting the process. There is an immense challenge ahead of you, and we cannot fail; the impact is too important.

Having dealt with that, I am particularly worried about Canada’s largest employers, those who have high, intensive GHG emissions and which are trade-exposed. We may be competing against a neighbouring country which is going to impose a much lower carbon price on their product than we do here in Canada.

I know in your package you are talking about helping those firms. I sit on the Energy Committee. We visited many of those firms, and it is critical that we provide for that.

My second, related question would be: What are you doing about imports from countries that have a lower carbon price? Obviously, our firms will be less competitive against those. Will you impose an import tariff on those firms and their products?

Hon. Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P., Minister of Environment and Climate Change: Thank you to the honourable senator, and thank you for the congratulations. I am very proud of what everyone has accomplished, working together. It has showed that our federation really does work.

In terms of the largest employers and the impact on trade- exposed sectors, that’s critical. We need to be very mindful. As I mentioned, we had Canada’s largest companies standing with us, once again, in another example of Canadians coming together. They said, “Put a price on pollution; we will innovate. It is the most efficient way to reduce emissions, and we will create good jobs.”

Having said that, every province has trade-exposed sectors. They need to be mindful of that. We are working with them to design a system that makes sense.

British Columbia has a system wherein they have considered different sectors. Alberta has a system, and when they announced their climate plan, they were standing with industry, indigenous leaders and with civil society. So I think that’s the path forward.

We have committed with the Prime Minister, working with the finance minister, doing a review of competitiveness and review of carbon pricing to look at this issue, because I think it is really important going forward. Assuming that we are mindful of the impacts, I think it will make us more competitive. It will create more jobs, and it will position us well for other opportunities in Canada as well as abroad.

Teck Resources is one of the companies that is working with other industry members as well as environmental groups on the competitiveness piece, and we’re certainly working with them.

You raised an important point that there are products from other countries that would not be subject to a price on pollution. That is quickly changing around the world. As I said, China is bringing in a national price on pollution. You have got California, so you have the second and sixth largest economies in the world, Europe and other economies.

I think that looking at the international trade agenda and at border carbon adjustments going forward is important. There is an opportunity. Canada has played a very good role in international trade negotiations and moving forward on the trade agenda. I think we want this competitiveness; we want to reduce emissions; we want to create jobs. I think that making sure there is a level playing field is important.