SASKATOON — Justin Trudeau says residents in Saskatchewan will continue to get carbon rebates while the province says it's not worried by the prime minister's push to get the Canada Revenue Agency to collect money owed.

The Saskatchewan government decided earlier this year not to remit the federal carbon price on natural gas to Ottawa, a move that breaks federal law.

Trudeau said Tuesday in Saskatoon that the Canada Revenue Agency has mechanisms to collect the money from the province.

"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," Trudeau told reporters at an unrelated news conference.

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

Trudeau said he has faith in the "quasi-judicial proceedings the Canada Revenue Agency uses."

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the province would stop sending the levy to Ottawa after Trudeau exempted home heating oil users from having to pay. It's a move that largely helps those in Atlantic provinces, where it's a main source for home heating, and has been seen as being politically motivated to boost Liberal support in the region.

Ottawa initially suggested rebates to Saskatchewan could be at risk.

Dustin Duncan, the minister responsible for SaskEnergy, said it's good residents will still get the money, but the governing Saskatchewan Party doesn't think it should be collected in the first place.

"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," the PM told reporters at a news conference. 

Duncan said he's confident in the province's approach.

"We’ve done everything that we can, first and foremost, to protect the people of Saskatchewan, so that they aren’t paying an unfair carbon tax on home heating," Duncan said Tuesday in Regina.

In Ottawa, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault couldn't say how the Canada Revenue Agency would collect the money but that Trudeau has directed the agency to get it.

"(Saskatchewan residents) won't be penalized because their premier, Premier Scott Moe, is playing politics with climate change," Guilbeault said.

"The prime minister, and I think cabinet, felt it wouldn’t be fair for the people of Saskatchewan to pay for the irresponsible attitude of the provincial government.”

Trudeau has faced conflict with Saskatchewan's government and Moe over the federal Liberal government's carbon levy.

Moe is among a majority of provincial leaders, including lone Liberal Premier Andrew Furey of Newfoundland and Labrador, who have asked Trudeau to convene a meeting to discuss alternatives to the consumer carbon price.

Moe has said the price is adding to inflationary pressures for Canadians who are desperate for affordability relief.

Trudeau said most Canadians receive more money back in rebates than they pay in carbon levies.

He has also challenged premiers to come up with their own climate plans if they don't like carbon pricing.

Moe has said Saskatchewan has looked at alternatives, but the province found them to be more expensive.

Trudeau was in Saskatoon to announce more supports for Indigenous communities.

Canada is offering $5 billion in loan guarantees to support those seeking ownership stakes in natural resource and energy projects. The program, which was part of last week's budget, would let Indigenous communities access loans from banks at lower interest rates.

Trudeau also said Ottawa is promising to spend millions of additional dollars to help with housing and health care.

The recent federal budget promises $390 million to renovate health facilities, including more than $20 million to support the Virtual Health Hub led by the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies.

It also includes $243 million for post-secondary opportunities for Indigenous people and $918 million for housing and infrastructure in their communities.

Later Tuesday, Trudeau visited the Jewish Community Centre, where he heard from community members about Passover.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2024.

— With files from Jeremy Simes in Regina

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It seems like Trudeau is finally fighting back against recalcitrant premiers, but with one gloved hand.

His recent comments in Victoria BC about "going around" uncooperative provinces on housing and other federal initiatives -- especially in cities -- preceeded his statements in Saskatoon on the carbon tax, and were welcomed, even with inadequate policies. Better than nothing, I suppose.

Speaking up is a good thing, I guess, but Trudeau may need to take the gloves off and use both fists sooner than later. His environment minister is ahead of the federal cabinet in similar statements, but in the background lurks the finance minister who seems more open to the influence of oil industry lobbyists than addressing science and conservative provincial leaders who benefit from bubbling crude and who would love to make the feds disappear ... but who don't have a clue about mitigating climate change or how to rule a separate "sovereign" province without various umbilical cords.

This is a federation, not a collection of little fiefdoms, though the half of them run by bullies would think otherwise.

just a short THANK-YOU

I quite agree that the people of Saskatchewan shouldn't be penalized. The one responsible for the decision to break the law should be penalized. That would be premier Scott Moe. He should be fined or put in jail, he's breaking the law.

and a similar THANK-YOU to you

these little tin-pot, know-nothing premiers are currently the bane of not only their own provinces, but of our nation

what a waste of air, time, and space!