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Politics plays big role in Sask. government opposition to carbon tax

Ron Walter's latest opinion column looks at the provincial government's opposition to a carbon tax
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

For almost a year the Saskatchewan government has labelled the federal carbon tax with one term — job killer, job, killer, job killer.

This government’s opposition to the carbon tax extended to a court case challenging the federal government’s right to levy a carbon tax, and a loss at the first court level.

The Saskatchewan government’s economic case against the carbon tax is based on a study commissioned by the province and released to the public last June with considerable hullabaloo.

That study supported the Saskatchewan claims of carbon tax killing jobs and damaging the economy. The University of Saskatchewan study found the carbon tax will cost the economy $16 billion in the next 10 years.

The Saskatchewan Party government had the needed ammunition to tell voters how bad and damaging the federal Liberal government tax will be.

Across the province, Saskatchewan government members and Premier Scott Moe successfully sounded the trumpets about the job killing tax.

Voters are already conditioned to hate taxes by five decades of anti-tax promotion from the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation and some business organizations.

Convincing the majority of voters about the evils of a carbon tax was easy.

Early this month, sudden revelations about the impact of the carbon tax came — revelations quite contrary to the Saskatchewan Party government position on the tax matter.

The Saskatchewan government commissioned and received a previous independent study on the carbon tax impact in 2017. That study was never released to the public and would be still buried in government files except for a Freedom of Information request by NDP Opposition Leader Ryan Meili.

The first study, the one hidden from the public, did not predict as much damage as the second one that was promoted as the proof of a job killer tax.

The first study by Navius Research, a Vancouver company specializing in climate change research, found much less damage from a carbon tax.

The hidden study results found the economy would lose $1.2 billion over 10 years to 2030 — less than one-tenth of the damage the second study found.

When confronted with the hidden study, Saskatchewan government spokesmen brushed it off like a married man claiming his unfaithfulness was a one-time thing that didn’t mean anything.

Oh, said the spokesmen dismissively, we didn’t like the way they did the study.

It sure sounds like the Saskatchewan Party government found the first study didn’t jive with its politics and ordered one from the government-funded university to match the Saskatchewan Party politics.

Not only was taxpayer money wasted, hiding the first study and buying a second one smacks of deceit and arrogance.

The case of the hidden carbon tax study shows Saskatchewan Party government opposition to carbon tax is based more on politics than on the true consequences of that tax.

Is it too much to ask our politicians to do the right thing and avoid trying to hoodwink taxpayers?

The strong backlash against the carbon tax is evidence this tax will work. Opposition to the carbon tax recognizes the tax will require more outlay or less use of fossil fuels, and some use of alternatives such as solar power to run the air conditioners on tractors and combines, or more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Ron Walter can be reached at

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