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Canada Saskatoon-raised Jonathan Wilkinson named federal environment minister, handed tricky carbon tax file

21:40  20 november  2019
21:40  20 november  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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Canada's Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson takes part in a news conference about the government's decision on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie © Getty Canada's Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson takes part in a news conference about the government's decision on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Saskatoon-raised Liberal MP Jonathan Wilkinson, a former advisor to Premier Roy Romanow and leader of the Saskatchewan Young New Democrats, has been named federal environment minister.

Wilkinson was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015, representing the riding of North Vancouver.

He previously held the position of Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and was parliamentary secretary to Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.

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Wilkinson received his B.A, from the University of Saskatchewan and was awarded the Prairie Rhodes Scholarship. He was a member of the civil service in Saskatchewan in the early 1990s before moving to a career in the private sector, including experience in the energy and environmental industries.

As the MP for North Vancouver, Wilkinson is familiar with the issues surrounding the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, as well as Bill C-48 and Bill C-69. Both C-48 and C-69 have been contentious in Saskatchewan. Premier Scott Moe has referred to them as the "oil tanker ban" and "no more pipelines" bills.

Carbon tax key issue to navigate in Sask. 

Wilkinson's file will also include contentious issues such as the carbon tax opposition in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

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While two-thirds of Canadians voted for a party that supported a carbon tax, the story was reversed in Saskatchewan and Alberta. More than 60 per cent of voters in those two provinces chose the Conservatives, who promised to scrap the carbon tax if elected.

The Conservatives won 47 of 48 ridings in Alberta and Saskatchewan, shutting out the Liberals entirely. 

The lack of Saskatchewan and Alberta representation in Trudeau's minority cabinet has been the subject of much speculation. Long-time Regina MP Ralph Goodale was defeated, ending a 26-year run in Ottawa. Goodale was an experienced voice in cabinet and was the de facto deputy prime minister. 

All of Trudeau's ministers were re-elected except for Goodale and Edmonton MP Amarjeet Sohi.

Both Moe and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney have launched legal challenges of the constitutionality of the carbon tax. Saskatchewan's case is scheduled to be argued at the Supreme Court in March.

A week after the Liberals minority win, Moe sent a letter requesting a "new deal" with Canada, which included cancelling the carbon tax and a commitment to pipeline projects. The letter also asked for a one-year pause of the carbon tax and a re-evaluation of Saskatchewan's climate change plan.

One of Kenney's post-election requests was for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to be removed from the file. McKenna has been a target of criticism from both provincial premiers.

In a meeting last week, Moe and Trudeau held their positions on the carbon tax. Moe called the message from Trudeau "more of the same."

Chrystia Freeland, who was born in Peace River, Alta., was named first deputy prime minister and minister of tntergovernmental affairs on Wednesday.

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