Justin Trudeau defends carbon tax after visit to Saskatchewan farm

Trudeau defends carbon tax after farm visit

GRAY, Sask. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to like farmer Todd Lewis’s combine, but Lewis does not like Trudeau’s carbon tax.

Trudeau happily hopped into a combine during a visit Thursday to the Lewis family’s century-old farm in the community of Gray, south of Regina.

“Glad to see how you guys have developed some amazing ways to succeed,” Trudeau said.

He climbed into a sprayer too, and was told how it uses a GPS so that the nozzles automatically turn off if they overlap to save fertilizer and fuel costs.

Most of the farm technology has been developed in Saskatchewan and Western Canada, Lewis told him.

“A real point of pride for all of Canada,” replied Trudeau.

And that’s the recognition Lewis wants for farmers when it comes to Trudeau’s carbon tax.

Trudeau has said all provinces must set up a cap-and-trade system or impose a price on carbon of at least $10 per tonne starting next year, increasing to $50 by 2022.

“Putting a price on carbon pollution is a way of encouraging and rewarding people who are innovating and reducing their carbon pollution outputs,” the prime minister said at a news conference in front of a couple hundred people at the Gray rink.

Trudeau said every penny collected from a carbon tax in Saskatchewan will stay in the province.

But the carbon tax idea is not popular among producers, who fear it will hurt income and competitiveness, especially with their American counterparts who don’t have a carbon tax.

“There’s lots of work due for the recognition that agriculture is part of the solution, not the problem,” said Lewis, who is also president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.

“Intuitively, farmers recognize you burn fuel, you spend more money, so intuitively for years, we’ve been on the carbon band wagon just from the practices we do.”

Jacob Froese, president of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, says the tax will go on fuel, fertilizer, and chemicals. Railroads that ship farm products will also face the tax and pass that onto farmers, he said.

The canola crushing industry could be in trouble because they compete globally with countries that don’t have a carbon tax, he suggested.

“We don’t want to be alarmists, but we want to be realists and look at what is coming down the road,” said Froese.

“They have to find a way to neutralize the tax on producers. We have picked all the low hanging fruit, so to speak. If you look at agriculture in Western Canada, it has revolutionized in the last 15, 20 years.”

Froese also says producers sequester a lot of carbon with the crops that they grow and haven’t been recognized for improvements that have been made.

Lewis says that’s why, despite disagreeing with Trudeau on the carbon tax, it was important to have the prime minister out to the farm and for producers to talk to him at the rink.

“We gotta start the conversation,” said Lewis.

“As somebody said once, if you’re not at the dinner table, you’re probably on the menu, and today we’re at the dinner table.”

Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Blowing snow, slippery sections on Okanagan Connector

Compact snow, poor visibility on Highway 97 from Pennask Summitt to Brenda Mines.

Makeover for Vernon motel with a history

Crime-plagued Green Valley Motel rebranded as Okanagan Royal Park Inn

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

City tweaks snow removal policy

Clear plan now in place in City of Armstrong

Lake Country seniors receive Christmas surprise

Hampers will be given to 20 lucky seniors in need next week

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Family suspends search for missing Alberta couple, plane near Revelstoke

Due to bad weather, families of missing Albertan couple say they will resume in the spring

Fire crews investigating oil sheen on Penticton Creek

Fire crews are working to contain the oil from spreading

Canadian grocers make $3M per year from penny-rounding: UBC study

Ottawa announced plans in 2012 to phase out the copper coin

B.C. anti-hate campaigner finds Google search on his efforts redirects to porn

Text from online news article about Cran Campbell being used to link to suspect websites

Summerland’s Justin Kripps completes first double-medal weekend of career

High-powered Canadian bobsledders celebrate four-man silver at World Cup in Igls

‘The Last Jedi’ opens with $220M, 2nd best weekend all-time

As anticipated, the movie fell shy of the opening weekend for J.J. Abrams’ 2015 franchise reboot

2 couples tie the knot in Australia’s 1st same-sex weddings

West Australian couple Anne Sedgwick, Lyn Hawkins have been together for 40 years

Most Read