Saskatchewan Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre has slammed the Trudeau government for issuing “vague threats” and “abstract plans” concerning its planned “just transition” without providing any cost breakdown of the implications of the new target.
In an interview with the outlet Pipeline Online, Eyre claimed that Liberal Natural Resource Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has disregarded the fact that Saskatchewan cannot meet the 2035 target based on its current power mix, which includes coal, natural gas and renewable sources.
“When I start to see fact for fact, analysis, that will be one thing, but I don’t see that in the comments that Minister Wilkinson made last week. I see more abstract plans, more vague threats,” said Eyre.
“He doesn’t counter that fact for fact when Saskatchewan and SaskPower submits, and have submitted over the course of months, how impossible it is; how literally impossible it is to transition the way the federal government is mandating by 2035 and nor in his comments.”
Recently, the federal government switched its net-zero target from the year 2050 to the much sooner target of 2035.
“I think is the most important I think the most important thing to keep in mind, as a reader, is that the federal government had net-zero plans for 2050 and arbitrarily changed those plans to 2035,” said Eyre.
Part of the federal government’s proposed transition involves what it calls the Clean Fuel Standard which aims to eliminate the use of natural gas and coal from the production of electricity.
She also dismissed Wilkinson’s suggestion that Saskatchewan could rely on hydro power from Manitoba as “impossible”, as Manitoba does not have enough hydro to offer.
“We know that SaskPower, as one example, has told federal officials at Environment and Climate Change Canada over the course of many months, that it is impossible, based on the current power mix, to meet 2035,” Eyre told Pipeline Online.
“And Minister Wilkinson continues to insist that some vague power mix including, hydro remains possible in Saskatchewan, when we know, and officials have been told repeatedly, that for one for one thing Manitoba doesn’t have enough hydro to offer Saskatchewan to make that mix work.”
The federal government and Western premiers have been engaged in a back-and-forth duel over the details of incoming policies that could upend Alberta’s and Saskatchewan’s traditional energy supply.
Wilkinson has claimed that those who refuse to adopt the Liberal government’s vision for a “just transition” were clinging to “blind hope” and not confronting the realities of climate change.
“In my mind, that path ignores the very clear evidence as to how climate change is undermining the health and safety of people and the planet. Such a head in the sand approach will lead to environmental devastation and economic stagnation as the world, including global investors, pass us by,” said Wilkinson, before taking a shot at Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre.
“Some in this country will tell you that one can fight climate change and create a healthy and prosperous economy for a low carbon future by simply relying on technology. I would say my colleague in the House of Commons, Mr. Poilievre, is fond of using the tagline “Technology, not taxes,” by which he means simply plan on or hope on technology to save us.”
Last week, Wilkinson changed his tune on the standard claiming that the federal government might allow natural gas to be included in energy supplies, should they embrace costly carbon capture technology.
Initially, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault threatened provinces that don’t comply with the federal government’s demands with potential criminal charges.
“We’ve regulated the ban on coal through (Canadian Environmental Protection Act), which is a criminal tool that the federal government has,” said Guilbeault.
“So not complying with this regulation would be a violation of Canada’s Criminal Code.”