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N.B. Premier Higgs tells Ottawa to replace carbon tax with LNG exports


New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs made a “plea” on Thursday for exports of liquefied natural gas to replace the federal carbon tax.

Higgs made the comments at a House of Commons committee meeting, appearing virtually after requesting time to speak in opposition to next week’s carbon tax increase.

Higgs was one of three premiers who appeared before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, along with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe (on Wednesday), and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (following Higgs on Thursday).

“We may want to think we’re going to solve the problems in our own little bubble but we are not,” said Higgs, in relation to federal carbon pricing policies.

The New Brunswick government has long harboured ambitions to develop liquefied natural gas in Saint John.

Higgs said an increase in LNG development would decrease greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.

“What we’re seeing as an opportunity in New Brunswick is exactly what’s happening in the west, in relation to the development of LNG and the shipment of LNG worldwide, and the shutdown of coal plants,” said Higgs, to committee members.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has previously questioned the long-term ‘business case’ for LNG exports from Canada to Europe.

Repsol dropped the idea of an LNG terminal in Saint John last year, citing high costs.

“The Prime Minister has stated there’s no business case in New Brunswick. That’s absolutely not true,” said Higgs. “The situation is we have a business case, we don’t have a gas supply currently, and that is the issue.”

“My plea here is across party lines to say let’s think bigger.”

Higgs, Moe, and Smith are amongst seven Canadian premiers who’ve asked for the cancellation of Monday’s carbon tax increase, saying it comes at a time when Canadians continue to struggle with inflation.

The carbon tax on gasoline is scheduled to increase 3.3 cents on April 1, to about 17 cents per litre of gasoline.

A Leger poll from earlier in March, conducted on behalf of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, found seven in 10 Canadians were against the April 1 carbon tax increase.

The federal carbon tax policy includes a mechanism for quarterly rebates in all four Atlantic provinces, as well as Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “the premiers, conservative premiers specifically,” were “misleading Canadians” about carbon price polices. 

“I’m going to continue to call them out, and remind them that if they really don’t like our approach to pricing pollution, they can develop their own approach,” said Trudeau.

Higgs’ testimony on Thursday was delayed by several points-of-order lodged by Liberal MPs, who questioned its relevance to the committee’s work – a repeat from Moe’s testimony the day before.

Later, Liberal Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long questioned Higgs about the provincial government’s own duties for providing inflation relief.

“You also have a lot of responsibility in the province of New Brunswick with respect to affordability,” said Long to Higgs. “You had three surpluses, I would argue largely due to federal transfers.”

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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