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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe spoke before a House of Commons committee to demand an end to the April 1 carbon tax price hike.

The coming April 1 tax increase will see the current $65-per-tonne carbon price rise to $80 per tonne, a detail that Moe argued was never included in the original announcement.  

“The carbon tax policy that was promised to cap out at $50 and is now $170 or who knows where now, combined with a number of other policies are creating uncertainty for the investment environment,” said Moe before the Government Operations and Estimates Committee on Wednesday.

Moe testified before the committee, much to the chagrin of Liberal MPs who were upset that he was called forth as a witness. 

“You called the meeting unilaterally without instruction or consultation with the members of this committee… This is a political stunt and theatre, just part and parcel of where our Conservative colleagues are taking this, to get clips” said Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk.

Moe won’t be the only premier to testify at the committee however, as the premiers of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Alberta are expected to express their opposition to the 1 tax hike as well.

Conservative MP and committee chair Kelly McCaulay defended the decision to call Moe, saying that it was “fully within” his powers to do so.  

McCauley argued that since MPs were studying government spending plans, hearing from premiers was relevant to the committee.

“There’s lots of examples of other chairs doing such things. It is the privilege and obligation, I think, of the chair to call meetings,” said McCauley. “And I did so.”

Moe testified that not it’s not just Saskatchewan producers but also agriculture farmers across Canada were being unduly punished by the federal carbon pricing system.

“I don’t agree that Canada is a climate laggard and I certainly don’t agree that Saskatchewan is a climate laggard,” said Moe. “I think that Saskatchewan and Canada are climate leaders when it comes to developing industries that are reducing emissions with innovations and then sharing those around the world.”

He said that his province was already producing wheat, canola oil and other products in a way that was so environmentally conscious that if agro-producers around the world were to do the same tomorrow, there would be a 25% drop in total emissions.  

When asked if he supported the Paris Climate Accord, Moe said that he did, in particular Article 6, which “sets out how countries can pursue voluntary cooperation to reach their climate targets.”

When referencing the goals of the Paris agreement, Moe said that “the goal is not for the big polluters to pay, the goal is for them to reduce their emissions because they are employing people in your community and my community.” 

The committee also discussed the carbon tax rebates.

“Do you know how many people in Saskatchewan rely on these rebates to get by in the midst of this affordability crisis?” asked Liberal MP Jenica Atwin.

“In general they get less back than they pay,” replied Moe. 

“Can you table some data to prove that for us?” pressed Atwin.

“It’s in the parliamentary budget officer’s report, which has been quoted many times and I can send you that, yes,” answered Moe. “Our overarching goal is to keep taxes as low as possible, in particular taxes that are ineffective like the carbon tax.” 

Atwin then asked how uncertainty around the price on pollution affects business decisions. 

“Would you agree that the uncertainty around the price on pollution isn’t good for businesses?”

“I would say that the price on pollution is creating uncertainty around the investment environment in Saskatchewan and Canada,” replied Moe. “Uncertainty that some national leaders are trying to navigate through as best they can.”

Atwin asked what kind of “windfall” the Saskatchewan oil and gas industry might face if the federal carbon pricing system was removed.

“There would be no windfall,” replied Moe. “What you would see is a return to significant investment into some of the cleanest oil and gas that is produced on earth and I think that would be a good thing for the globe.”