Manitoba needs to move on after Supreme Court rules Federal Carbon Tax constitutional

March 25, 2021 

For Immediate Release (Treaty 1, Winnipeg): The Supreme Court ruling today on the federal government’s constitutional authority to lever a price on carbon pollution is welcome news for those seeking climate action. The Manitoba government should accept this ruling and move on to address the urgent need to act on climate in Manitoba. 

“Carbon pricing is an essential mechanism for action on climate change; it puts a more appropriate cost on the sources of carbon pollution and it should provide revenue for programs that will help us end our reliance on fossil fuels.” – Curt Hull, Climate Change Connection 

The ruling confirms that climate change is a matter of national concern and sets a precedent for the federal government to set nation-wide minimum standards when it comes to climate action. The Supreme Court ruling confirms the federal government powers to provide for unified national action. The ruling states that “provinces and territories are constitutionally incapable of establishing a binding outcome-based minimum legal standard — a national GHG pricing floor — that applies in all provinces and territories at all times” and therefore it is the role of the federal government to do so. 

In a press conference today, Premier Brian Pallister stated Manitoba will continue to fight the federal government carbon tax and that Manitoba will be the “last stand” against the federal carbon tax, as the Premier states “I know we have a better plan”. 

“The federal and Manitoba carbon pricing plans must work together harmoniously to have maximum impact. Manitoba is behind on climate action according to the Manitoba Auditor General, it has not acted in six key areas. It is time for Manitoba to stop spending taxpayer money fighting Ottawa and move forward on addressing climate change” – Molly McCracken, Manitoba director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives 

Earlier this month, the Auditor General of Manitoba released a report on previously issued recommendations, including an audit of Manitoba’s Climate Plan in 2017. The 2021 AGM report found that Manitoba has yet to use scientific and economic analyses to set targets and develop plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Inaction on climate presents a massive risk to Manitoba’s economy, health and well-being. 

One of the grounds the Manitoba government claims for special treatment on climate action is Manitoba Hydro infrastructure. Notably other hydro producing provinces such as BC or Quebec are not requesting special treatment. Manitoba Hydro renewable electricity is an asset to our province to assist Manitoba to transition off of GHG emissions in the buildings, transportation, and agriculture sectors. This is discussed in the recently released Road to Resilience: A community action pathway for a fossil fuel free future in Manitoba. Manitoba must do our part to reduce GHG emissions locally.

Notes on compensation for a carbon pollution levy:


“The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s February review of the federal carbon pricing system concluded that because of the Climate Action Incentive rebate, “most households will receive higher transfers than amounts paid in fuel charges” and “the net benefits are broadly progressive by income group” – Clean Energy Canada

Manitoba’s approach of cutting the PST to compensate for flat carbon levy rewards households with higher incomes as they spend a higher proportion of their income on PST taxable goods and services. This approach does not incentivize behaviour change necessary to curb carbon-intensive activities.


The Climate Action Team – Manitoba is a coalition of environmental organizations in Manitoba working to create a road to climate resilience in our province. With funding from the Winnipeg foundation, CAT has hosted educational events around Winnipeg and produced the Road to Resilience, a comprehensive roadmap to meeting the emissions targets laid out in the IPCC 1.5 Report in Manitoba. Coalition members include Climate Change Connection, Wilderness Committee – Manitoba Office, Green Action Centre, Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba Office.

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