‘I don’t feel worried’: Duncan responds to Trudeau’s comments on CRA, carbon levy

Troy Fleece/Regina Leader-Post. SaskParty MLA Dustin Duncan speaks to reporters at the Legislative Building on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 in Regina.

“I don’t feel worried,” the minister responsible for all major Crowns said Tuesday after comments made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the CRA would collect the money owed.

Alec Salloum, Regina Leader-Post

Dustin Duncan says he’s not worried about the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) looking to claw back money the province is refusing to remit to the feds from the carbon price on natural gas.

“I don’t feel worried,” the minister responsible for all major Crowns said Tuesday.

The reassurance comes after comments made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a visit to Saskatoon earlier that morning.

“We’re going to continue to deliver the Canada Carbon Rebate to families right across to Saskatchewan, despite the fact that Premier Moe is not sending that money to Ottawa right now,” he said.

“The Canada Revenue Agency has ways of ensuring money that is owed to them is eventually collected.”

It’s good Saskatchewan residents will still get rebate cheques, Duncan said, but he maintained his position that the program should not exist and the tax should not be collected.

In February, the minister said Saskatchewan will stop remitting the carbon tax on natural gas even though there may be consequences to breaking federal law.

Still, Duncan said there hasn’t been much in the way of communication from the federal government and, in his approximation of things, there is no legal mechanism for the CRA to collect, citing language in the federal budget which “suggests that they don’t have the ability.”

“But we’ll wait to see. We haven’t seen legislation yet,” he said.

Duncan feels the province has done enough to “protect the people of Saskatchewan,” including SaskEnergy employees.

The last time he spoke to Ottawa about the provincial plan was briefly in January with federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne, Duncan said.

“I haven’t had any outreach by anybody in the federal government. I know that there’s been some musings publicly including, I think, today,” he said.

Asked if he felt Trudeau’s words warranted a phone call to Ottawa for clarity on what might be coming, Duncan said, “Nope.

“We’ve been very clear what we’re doing in terms of not collecting the carbon tax. That remains our position.”

This is the latest development in a row between Premier Scott Moe and the federal government that started when the feds exempted home-heating oil users from having to pay the carbon levy. Moe and other critics said the move favoured Atlantic Canada while failing to offer similar relief elsewhere.