Several provinces unhappy with PMs national carbon tax, while green groups oppose government investment in fossil fuels
When Justin Trudeau swept into power in 2015, he pledged to make fighting climate change a top priority for his government.
Three years later, Canadas prime minister is on the defensive, scrambling to both revive his partys unravelling climate strategy as a growing number of provinces refuse to participate in national carbon tax and to temper frustrations over his governments continued investment in the fossil fuel industry.
From the beginning, [the government] decided they were going to try to thread the needle on the need for climate policy and fossil fuel resource development. They even made the two interdependent, said Matthew Hoffman, a political science professor at Torontos Munk School of Global Affairs.
But on the surface, the strategy appears to be quickly falling apart.
Trudeaus political foes have already seized on the carbon tax in anticipation of the upcoming federal election still a full year away but the prime minister has shown no signs of backing down.
Pollution should not be free anywhere across this country, he said last week.
The political infighting comes as the UNs intergovernmental panel on climate change warned that drastic changes are needed to offset the impacts of global climate change.
As part of a strategy to reduce Canadas emissions, provinces are required to introduce a tax of at least $20 per tonne on emissions from January 2019, with increments of $10 each year until 2022.
In provinces which fail to produce an adequate carbon pricing plan, the federal government would implement its own tax, or backstop.
Last week, Manitoba became the fifth provinceto publicly opt out of carbon pricing, arguing that its own plans to combat climate change were sufficient.
Saskatchewan, which still relies heavily on coal for its power, has called the carbon tax a ransom note.
In Ontario, Canadas most populous province, the rightwing premier, Doug Ford, has vowed to rally opposition to the measure, which he described as the worst tax ever.
Alberta, home to the countrys oil sands, announced it would leave the plan after the federal government failed to push through construction of the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline a project Alberta argued was critical to its economy.
Until the federal government gets its act together, Alberta is pulling out of the federal climate plan, said Premier Rachel Notley in August. And lets be clear, without Alberta, that plan isnt worth the paper its written on.
Only two provinces, British Columbia and Quebec, have signalled a willingness to remain in some form of carbon pricing agreement.
When the original agreement was laid out, many of the provinces had Liberal politicians in power. Now, a conservative wave across the country has changed the party in power and the political calculus.