Canada names Saskatchewan as gas distributor in province's fight against carbon tax

canada names saskatchewan as gas distributor in province's fight against carbon tax

Canada Revenue Agency national headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada April 19, 2023. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – The Canada Revenue Agency has agreed to Saskatchewan’s request to register the provincial government as the province’s natural gas distributor in the province instead of the government-owned SaskEnergy company, a government spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The move comes as Saskatchewan protests that the federal carbon tax is unfair and places an onerous burden on Canadians already struggling with inflation.

The province has not decided whether it will remit residential carbon tax charges for January, which are due this month, spokesperson Sam Sasse said.

CONTEXT

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a Liberal, faces opposition from conservative-leaning provinces such as Saskatchewan and Alberta to his climate-change policies, including the federal carbon tax on the use of fuels that produce greenhouse gas emissions.

In January, Saskatchewan stopped collecting the tax applied to homes heated by natural gas and electricity, after Trudeau’s government exempted home heating oil from the tax in a move that favoured Atlantic Canada residents.

The provincial government is only breaking the law if it fails to remit carbon tax revenue to Ottawa as scheduled in February and has suggested it could fund the payment with general revenues instead of consumer utility payments.

Saskatchewan had said it wanted the Canada Revenue Agency to register the government as natural gas distributor to protect SaskEnergy executives from possible penalties and criminal charges.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

Trudeau’s Liberals are languishing in popularity ahead of an expected election in 2025.

One of Trudeau’s main vulnerabilities is the rising cost of living. Some provincial leaders and the federal Conservatives allege that he is out of touch.

WHAT IS NEXT

Saskatchewan will decide ahead of the February payment deadline whether to pay the January carbon tax charges, Sasse said.

THE RESPONSE

Canada Revenue Agency said it could not immediately comment.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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