Sunday , May 16 2021

Higgs leaves meeting with Trudeau 'disappointed' in progress on carbon tax

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said he left Friday's meeting with Prime Minster Justin Trudeau was disappointed by the progress of the six agenda items they discussed.

The two tackled the carbon tax, the New Brunswick's health care financial framework, the pipeline bill C69, the softwood lumber tariffs, and the national energy utility corridor and depleting salmon stocks in Ottawa in New Brunswick's rivers and lakes.

The Francophonie Games, the most recent issue on which the premier and prime minister have clashed, was not on the agenda.

Higgs said the two spent the most time discussing the carbon tax, but he said it did not seem to be productive.

"There was a recognition that I kind of inherited the situation, but there was an unwillingness to deal with it in 2019. [New Brunswick] in comparison to other provinces, and that was certainly disappointing, "Higgs said.

Higgs said he has asked for the same treatments and industry exemptions as the federal government has already concluded with provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan. He also asked for a delay on the levy to be applied to consumers until there is a court ruling in the federal carbon plan.

Trudeau and Higgs discussed six agenda items, but spent the most time talking over the carbon tax. (Radio-Canada)

"I asked specifically for those two items and I did not get a favorable response in either case," Higgs said.

Higgs said the New Brunswick industry is unfairly disadvantaged and being penalized, which he said would ultimately mean higher prices.

Higg said he did not get a clear answer from the federal government on how much money the carbon tax will collect compared to how much more.

In their discussion of New Brunswick's diminishing salmon stocks, Higgs said Trudeau wanted to follow the science, but he pointed out that while Halifax has a salmon replenishing program in the Bay of Fundy, Miramichi does not have the same opportunity because of differences of opinions in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

"My only suggestion was that the science of the Halifax DFO should be similar to the science coming out of Moncton [DFO], "Higgs said.

"All I'm looking for is consistency, there is a plan and not a wait for the depleted entirely before we do anything."

The only agenda item that Higgs said looked like there would be movement on softwood lumber. The premier said he is expecting some new information on the progress of the federal government, and has eager to have his trip to Washington in a few weeks.

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