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Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Thursday he supports Manitoba’s request for an exemption from the federally imposed carbon price.

“The fact is that Manitoba produces a phenomenal amount of green energy through its hydroelectricity, and a carbon tax will come nowhere near the environmental benefit of expanding that energy,” Poilievre told reporters following a meeting with Premier Wab Kinew at the legislature.

Kinew’s NDP government has not joined Poilievre and some other provincial governments in publicly calling on Ottawa to cancel Monday’s scheduled increase of the carbon price by $15 per tonne.

The hike will add 3.3 cents to a litre of gasoline and 2.9 cents to a cubic metre of natural gas. The carbon rebates sent to households every three months are also being increased.

Kinew’s approach has been more behind-the-scenes.

He told reporters earlier this month he feels Manitoba has a strong case to be exempt from the federal carbon price because of the hydro power. He also said Manitoba was preparing a formal submission to the federal government on the issue, but he offered no details or timelines or any evidence to suggest Ottawa might agree.

Manitoba has long argued that it deserves credit on the carbon front for spending billions of dollars on hydroelectric generating stations and transmission lines. Almost all electricity in the province is from hydro, but most home heating systems use imported natural gas.

The former Progressive Conservative government in Manitoba tried to avoid the federally imposed levy by instituting its own flat tax of $25 a tonne, but the federal government said that was not high enough. Manitoba backed off its flat tax and launched a court challenge, which it lost in 2021.

Kinew was not available for comment after Thursday’s meeting.

Poilievre was in the Manitoba capital to attend an “axe the tax rally,” similar to ones he has held across the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said political leaders who criticize the carbon policy are failing to acknowledge and inform Canadians about the rebates, which are meant to offset costs to consumers.

Most families in federal backstop jurisdictions take in more rebate money than they pay, Trudeau has said.

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