Liberals seek to change channel from SNC-Lavalin, focus on climate plan

Party releases first election ads in provinces where carbon tax to be imposed

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Friday, March 1, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will try to shift the focus from the SNC-Lavalin affair to his preferred campaign battleground — climate change — with the release this week of the Liberal party’s first election-year ads.

Radio ads will air in the four provinces where the federal government is imposing a carbon tax after their conservative provincial governments refused to levy their own price on carbon: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick.

The ads stress that the money raised from the tax will be rebated directly to residents in those provinces.

Trudeau will set the stage for the ad campaign with a “climate action” rally in Toronto on Monday night.

The ads will then begin airing Tuesday morning, aimed at commuters.

READ MORE: Wilson-Raybould testifies she got ‘veiled’ threats on SNC-Lavalin

The message, delivered by Trudeau, is identical for the four provinces — aside from the amount of money to be rebated to residents, which varies depending on the amount of carbon emissions to be taxed in each province.

According to the ads, an average family of four will receive more than $600 this year in Saskatchewan, more than $300 in Ontario and Manitoba and more than $250 in New Brunswick.

“Climate change is a real and serious problem,” Trudeau says in the ads.

“We have a strong plan to fight it, one that leading scientists and economists support. It makes polluters pay and gives the money back to people.”

In a jab at the federal Conservatives and their provincial cousins, Trudeau concludes: “Now, some politicians want to go back to the Harper years when pollution was free. We have to do better than that. Our kids are counting on us.”

The Trudeau government is requiring provinces to impose a price on carbon emissions, starting at $20 per tonne this year and rising by $10 per tonne annually until it hits $50 in 2022. It is imposing its own tax on those provinces that have refused to meet the federal threshold.

The first payments will be visible to residents in the four provinces when they file their taxes this spring — in plenty of time to register with voters before they head to the polls in October.

Trudeau is also scheduled to visit Monday with a Mississauga family to “highlight the climate action incentive payment.”

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is also set to make a climate-related announcement in Ottawa on Monday, as the start of what a spokeswoman calls the start of an “Ontario tour.” The prime minister and other Liberal MPs will be making similar appearances across the country this week.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

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