TORONTO — A spokesman for Doug Ford says Ontario’s incoming premier is determined to deliver on his campaign promise to scrap the “disastrous” cap-and-trade system and fight a federal carbon tax.
Ford’s pledge is causing concern in Quebec, a province that introduced a cap-and-trade system in 2013 and shares a carbon market with Ontario and California.
Ford, whose Progressive Conservatives won a majority of seats in the Ontario legislature, is currently meeting with his transition team to select his cabinet and prepare for his official swearing-in on June 29.
Quebec’s environment minister, Isabelle Melancon, says she is watching closely to see who Ford will appoint as her counterpart and plans to stress the benefits of the cap-and-trade system.
She says Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard did not raise the issue when he met with Ford a few days ago, but the two are set to meet again in July during the Council of the Federation, an annual meeting of provincial and territorial leaders.
A spokesman for Ford says the Tory leader is also committed to fighting federal rules set to kick in next year that require provinces to have carbon pricing in place — rules already being challenged by the governments of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
“Doug Ford is committed to stopping Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax and pulling Ontario out of the disastrous cap-and-trade scheme,” said Jeff Silverstein. “Doug Ford campaigned on this promise and he will deliver for the people of Ontario.”
The cap-and-trade system aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions by putting caps on the amount of pollution companies in certain industries can emit. If they exceed those limits they must buy allowances at quarterly auctions or from other companies that come in under their limits.
The cap declines about four per cent each year to 2020, and as it decreases, the government hopes companies have more incentive to cut their emissions.
Ontario has made close to $3 billion in a series of auctions since the system was introduced last year.
Asked what it would mean for Quebec if Ontario pulled out of the carbon market, Melancon said it was too early to comment on that possibility.
“I want to have those discussions before talking about a possible withdrawal,” she told The Canadian Press in French. “There are international treaties, we have signatures with the Western Climate Initiative, that are important,” she said.
“Quebec has always been a leader when it comes to fighting climate change. We would like to continue to do so…with Ontario by our side in this carbon market,” she said.
States such as Oregon and Vermont, as well as jurisdictions such as Mexico, are currently interested in the carbon market, she said, adding that cap and trade is expected to raise billions for green energy projects in Quebec over time.
Ford has consistently opposed carbon pricing and has come under fire for failing to explain how he would make up for the lost revenue.
If Ford gets rid of cap and trade, the federal measures will kick in, said University of Calgary economics professor Trevor Tombe.
Those include a carbon tax that …read more