Would-be UCP lead­ers put fis­cal plans in writ­ing

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - JAMES WOOD

Can­di­dates for the United Con­ser­va­tive party lead­er­ship have put their prom­ises to scrap al­berta’s car­bon tax and balance the pro­vin­cial bud­get into writ­ing.

but they ac­knowl­edged the pledge the abol­ish the car­bon tax brought in by the Ndp gov­ern­ment could be com­pli­cated by the fate of Justin trudeau’s own car­bon pric­ing plan.

On thurs­day, the Cana­dian tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion hosted three of the UCp lead­er­ship can­di­dates — brian Jean, Ja­son Ken­ney and doug Sch­weitzer — at an event dur­ing which they signed a pledge to re­peal the car­bon levy within 100 days of tak­ing of­fice if the party wins the 2019 pro­vin­cial elec­tion and to balance the bud­get within the first term of a UCp gov­ern­ment. the fourth can­di­date in the race, Jeff Call­away, sup­ports the pledge but had a sched­ul­ing con­flict.

the CtF’s Colin Craig said he ap­pre­ci­ated the can­di­dates com­mit­ted not only to ac­tion but to a time-frame. and a writ­ten prom­ise helps keep politi­cians hon­est, he added.

“if a can­di­date signs our pledge but breaks their prom­ise once elected, it will cost them dearly with vot­ers,” said Craig.

premier rachel Not­ley’s Ndp gov­ern­ment im­ple­mented an econ­omy-wide car­bon tax on Jan. 1 based on the equiv­a­lent of $20 per tonne of emis­sions. it is slated to rise to the equiv­a­lent of $30 per tonne in 2018. the tax boosts the cost of gaso­line by 4.49 cents per litre and nat­u­ral gas by $1.011 per gi­ga­joule, though about two-thirds of al­ber­tans re­ceive at least a par­tial re­bate.

rev­enue col­lected from the tax is ear­marked for ar­eas such as al­ter­na­tive en­ergy de­vel­op­ment and green trans­porta­tion, with the Ndp re­cently com­mit­ting $1.5 bil­lion in car­bon levy rev­enue over seven years to Cal­gary’s Green Line Lrt ex­pan­sion.

a com­plex­ity to the car­bon tax de­bate in al­berta is that trudeau’s Lib­eral gov­ern­ment will man­date prov­inces to set a min­i­mum car­bon price of $10 per tonne in 2018, ris­ing to $50 by 2022. if a prov­ince doesn’t set up its own sys­tem, the trudeau gov­ern­ment will im­ple­ment its own car­bon tax sys­tem and re­turn the rev­enue to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

the Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment has vowed to launch a con­sti­tu­tional chal­lenge over Ottawa’s au­thor­ity to im­pose a car­bon price. UCp can­di­dates have said they would add al­berta to that chal­lenge but ac­knowl­edge the is­sue could be set­tled even be­fore they take of­fice.

Jean, for­mer leader of the Wil­drose, said if the fed­eral car­bon price is up­held, a UCp gov­ern­ment would have to ad­just.

“Ul­ti­mately, what we would have to do is re­duce cor­re­spond­ing taxes for those in­dus­tries, cor­po­ra­tions or in­di­vid­u­als that are fac­ing that $5-bil­lion car­bon tax,” he said.

Ken­ney said that be­sides le­gal ac­tion, there is hope the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tives will de­feat the Lib­er­als in the next elec­tion and scrap car­bon pric­ing.

“if we fail to re­place the Lib­er­als and we lose this case in the Supreme Court, then i would con­sider a re­bate sys­tem that would re­bate the fed­eral rev­enues back to al­ber­tans in an eq­ui­table fash­ion,” said Ken­ney.

Sch­weitzer said he would take sim­i­lar ac­tion if the fed­eral car­bon price re­mains in place. @JamesWoodPress

CRAIG CtF di­rec­tor

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.