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Sask. premier doubles down on commitment to not remit carbon tax on home heating

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After facing criticism from federal ministers earlier this week over his commitment to not remit the carbon tax on home heating using natural gas – Premier Moe doubled down on the province’s controversial move.

On Monday, Federal Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Moe used “appallingly bad judgment” in his decision – while Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault called Moe’s decision “immoral” in comments to The Canadian Press.

Speaking with CTV’s Power Play host Vassy Kapelos on Tuesday – Moe defended the move, reiterating his claim that refusing to remit the carbon levy on natural gas used for home heating was a move made in the name of fairness.

“To quote the federal energy minister, it's unheard of and historic. I agree. But I'd say it's tremendously disappointing that it's come to a decision like this in our province when the federal government had the opportunity to treat Canadian families fair from coast to coast to coast,” he explained.

“Certainly with respect to this, this is about treating all Canadians equally – including those in Saskatchewan.”

Moe announced in October that his government would cease to collect and remit the carbon levy after the federal government instituted a three year exemption on home heating oil. The fuel is primarily used in Atlantic Canada.

On Feb. 29, Crown Corporations Minister Dustin Duncan reiterated that the province would not remit the funds to Ottawa on the last day prior to the deadline.

During the announcement of the exemption however, the federal government also doubled the rural rebate top-up from 10 to 20 per cent.

While speaking on Power Play, Moe denied that the rural increase equalized the effect of the program for those living in Saskatchewan.

“We're still upside down in this province on the amount of dollars that we're paying in carbon tax versus the direct and indirect costs that it is costing Saskatchewan residents,” he claimed.

“We think this tax, in addition to being one of the major contributors to inflationary pressures, in addition to being one of the major contributors to what our families are experiencing in increased prices at the fuel pumps, in grocery stores here in Saskatchewan – we think it should be removed on everything for everyone.”

Moe went on to argue that the heating oil exemption was politically motivated – citing comments from Minister Guide Hutchtings.

“She suggested that we should elect more Liberal MPs from the various provinces if we wanted to have a similar decision made in this space. That's disappointing,” he said.

“What we did is essentially mirrored the federal government's decision for Saskatchewan residents. We didn't go any further, and we didn't go any less.”

The province’s decision has also been criticized by academics who claim it will hinder affordability – affecting lower income families in the province the most.

By not remitting the carbon tax, the province is violating the law and risking legal repercussions and fines.

The Government of Saskatchewan moved to be recognized as the singular natural gas distributor for the province – meaning members of SaskEnergy would not be penalized for the province’s decision.

Energy Minister Wilkinson has said he’s hopeful Saskatchewan’s government will “see the light” and follow the law.

However both Wilkinson and Guilbeault have stated the federal government will need to take action if Moe continues to set a dangerous precedent.

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