Despite Manitoba’s historic reliance on cheap and clean hydroelectric power, it should be standing shoulder to shoulder with the energy provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan in opposing the federal government’s unprecedented power grab to reconfigure electricity delivery in the provinces by imposing its crazy Net Zero plan.
Even if Manitoba could meet Ottawa’s quixotic dreams of ending fossil fuels use, the provincial government should stand on constitutional principle. Manitobans should determine our shared energy future, not federal bureaucrats in the thrall of global central planners and green special interests
Given Manitoba’s position as a renewable energy champion (hydro power 97% of the province’s electricity), it would mean a lot if it opposed Ottawa’s intrusion.
Even if we indulge climate hysteria and the questionable theory that carbon dioxide is pollution, it’s clear Canada would make no difference to global CO2 emissions with its combined carbon tax and net zero goals.
On the constitutional front, federal plans are shaky. Ottawa’s net zero policies require provinces and territories to adopt certain electricity generation targets by 2035. Of course, some provinces outside the West are pushing back. Nova Scotia – reliant on imported coal – is opposing Ottawa’s targets and its punitive carbon tax levies that are hitting low-income Nova Scotians particularly hard.
The Constitution specifies provinces and territories have jurisdiction over electricity generation. Which makes complete sense. This level of government is better able to prioritize and manage its own plans for electric generation.
Informed observers have pointed out that Ottawa was able to weasel into this area through appealing to its shared jurisdiction with the provinces over the environment. Project Confederation – an independent public policy organization based in Alberta – has pointed out that the decision to give the feds and the provinces shared say over the environment was one arrived at solely by the courts. The environment is not even mentioned in the constitution.
Through this shared jurisdiction concept, Ottawa was able to impose its questionable carbon tax regime on the provinces. The court ruled that because climate change was of national concern and urgency, the federal government could impose its policies.
However, there is hope courts would rule against Ottawa interfering in such an intrusive way in the province’s electricity generation. Manitoba – along with other provinces – should let this wind its way through the courts and fight this all the way. Give full credit to the Stefanson Government, which has announced it will continue to fight the carbon tax in court.
If there is any political hill to die on, it is this one.
Ottawa must not be allowed to bulldoze provincial economies with its disastrous and unnecessary climate change policies. These policies will ruin certain provinces and kill a significant chunk of our national economy.
Manitobans must be part of a united front on this. This means the Manitoba NDP – as captive as that party is to extreme environmentalists – needs to commit to opposing Ottawa’s overreach. Wab Kinew’s party also needs to separate itself from its federal wing, which is the party of centralization par excellence.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew – a signatory to the extremist Leap Manifesto – must oppose the environmentalist interest groups that dominate his party.
While he’s at it, Kinew must renounce net zero moves at the local level that are trendy right now but make horrible policy, such as banning natural gas furnaces or disallowing natural gas heating in new building codes -insanities in frosty cold Winnipeg and Manitoba.
Let the battle begin.
Joseph Quesnel is a Senior Research Associate with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.