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Trudeau to Sask. residents: We're not coming for your carbon rebates

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People in Saskatchewan will keep getting Canada Carbon Rebate payments, despite an ongoing feud between Ottawa and the provincial government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made that declaration Tuesday at a stop in Saskatoon to highlight new spending initiatives as part of last week's federal budget reveal, but Trudeau's relationship with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe quickly became the focus.

"Despite the disagreement with the provincial government here in Saskatchewan, on them not wanting to pay the federal government what is owed, the Canada Carbon Rebate cheques going to families in Saskatchewan will not be impacted by the Government of Saskatchewan decision," he told the crowd at Saskatoon’s Wanuskewin heritage park Tuesday morning.

"We're going to continue to deliver the Canada Carbon Rebate to families right across Saskatchewan, despite the fact that Premier Moe is not sending that money to Ottawa right now."

Moe and Trudeau have been at odds about the carbon tax for years, with the province even challenging it in the Supreme Court of Canada in 2021.

Last fall, Moe said Saskatchewan would stop collecting the fuel charge from residents. Then in late February, the province said it would no longer remit the carbon price on natural gas to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), but Trudeau said he isn’t worried about the CRA being out any money.

"The Canada Revenue Agency has ways of ensuring that that money that is owed to them is eventually collected, and we have faith in the rigorous quasi-judicial proceedings that the Canada Revenue Agency uses."

During his stop in Saskatoon, Trudeau highlighted $21 million in funding for a virtual health hub being launched in Whitecap Dakota First Nation and led by the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies to improve access to healthcare for residents living in remote communities.

Moe said he wished he could have been part of Tuesday's announcement, saying the province is providing one-third of the funding. However, he's used to the cool reception he receives from the Prime Minister's Office.

"My perspective is that it's a disappointing relationship. We have a federal government that is coming in to a province, making an announcement for two-thirds of a project, of which the province is the other third, and we were given no advanced notice," Moe said.

Trudeau says his office gave warning as it always does, and the province wasn't able to organize a meeting during the prime minister's brief stay.

Tuesday's exchange is yet another highlight of the deteriorating relationship between Moe and Trudeau, but Moe says the Prime Minister has plenty of work to do outside provincial borders, as a number of other premiers are also repeating calls for a meeting about the carbon tax and possible alternatives.

"We need to do better, and I would say the federal government needs to do better, as well as they attempt to have a much more productive relationship with not just the province of Saskatchewan, but I would say many other provinces across the nation," Moe said.

"And if they choose not to, we will be in a situation in Canada where they will be replaced and there will be an administration that will choose to." 

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