TORONTO — Ontario Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie said Monday that if she is premier after the 2026 election, she will not introduce a provincial carbon tax as part of her climate policy.

It's a position that comes after the Tories have for months tied Crombie to the federal carbon price, trying to define her in the public eye in her first few months as the new Liberal leader.

The Progressive Conservatives have been running ads dubbing Crombie the "queen of the carbon tax," suggesting she championed the policy when she was a federal Liberal MP, and have even introduced legislation to require a future Ontario government to hold a referendum before implementing a new provincial carbon pricing system.

Crombie announced Monday that she has put together an expert policy panel to lead consultations on the Liberals' climate platform for the 2026 election, and that the set of promises will not include a provincial carbon tax.

"We will ensure major polluters pay, but we will not have an Ontario carbon tax on consumers," Crombie wrote in a statement.

"Instead, I want robust action on building up public transit systems; investing in electric vehicle infrastructure; reforming land-use planning to build livable, walkable communities; protecting our water, sensitive land, and nature; decarbonizing our energy grid; supporting our farmers; and, most importantly, finding ways to help families save money by helping households become more energy efficient."

Crombie's statement did not address whether she supports the carbon pricing system set up by the federal Liberal government. Ford and other premiers have called on the federal government to cancel or pause the annual increase next month.

Energy Minister Todd Smith said he also wants to see Crombie weigh in on the federal system.

"I think it would be very, very meaningful if Bonnie Crombie, the Liberal Leader in Ontario, came out and joined the PCs in Ontario — joined even Liberal and NDP voices from across the country — in saying no and asking Justin Trudeau to put a pause on the federal carbon tax," Smith said after question period.

Ontario provincial Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie says a carbon tax will not be part of her climate platform. #onpoli #cdnpoli #carbontax

"This is not the time to increase taxes on the people of Ontario."

Ontario is subject to the federal carbon pricing backstop because Ford withdrew the province from a cap-and-trade system after his government came to power in 2018.

The province also has its own carbon pricing system for industrial emitters requiring them to pay if they exceed certain limits.

Crombie's climate panel includes caucus member Mary-Margaret McMahon, former Liberal environment and agriculture ministers, and the managing director of finance and resilience at the Intact Centre on Climate Adaption.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2024.

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