Kenney vows to fight back against federal carbon tax
UCP Leader Jason Kenney vowed Wednesday that not only will his party repeal the provincial carbon tax should it form government next year, but he’d also sue the federal government if Alberta is forced to comply with a federal carbon levy under his leadership.
Kenney’s announcement came a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised the federal government would return 90 per cent of all money it collects from a carbon price directly to Canadians.
Ottawa required all provinces to put a minimum price on pollution of $20 a tonne of emissions by Jan. 1.
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick have not complied, and will have a federal carbon levy on fuels as well as a cap-and-trade style system for large industrial emitters imposed on them.
Residents in those provinces will start getting federal rebates on their next tax return to offset the extra costs they will pay for everything from gasoline and groceries to home heating and electricity.
Speaking outside the Blackfoot Diner in Calgary on Wednesday, Alberta’s Opposition leader said the prime minister was “threatening the provinces with his federal carbon tax” and that Alberta would push back under his leadership.
Ontario and Saskatchewan are both fighting the carbon tax plan in court, making the case that Ottawa doesn’t have the constitutional right to impose the levy on provinces that are opposed to it.
“An Alberta United Conservative government will immediately convene the provincial legislature to pass bill No. 1, the carbon tax repeal act,” Kenney said. “If they seek to impose an Ottawa tax on us, we will sue Justin Trudeau. We will seek intervener status before the appeals courts of Ontario and Saskatchewan to help those provincial governments in their legal challenge. We will launch our own legal challenge, if necessary, here in Alberta.”
Ottawa anticipates collecting more than $2.3 billion in carbon taxes, 90 per cent of which will go to household rebates. The remaining 10 per cent will be handed out to small and medium-sized businesses, schools, hospitals and other organizations that can’t pass on their costs from the carbon tax directly to consumers.
Kenney said his party will offer an alternate plan in next spring ’s election campaign that focuses on “ways to reduce carbon emissions that can help the rest of the world do that through research and development, science and technology.”
“The NDP here in Alberta promised us that there would be generous rebates for their carbon tax,” he said. “Well, it’s true that about a third of Albertans do get a rebate cheque. Two-thirds don’t.”
Kenney also slammed the NDP government’s efforts in Ottawa this week to convince federal officials that Bill C-69, dubbed the Impact Assessment Act, is in need of amendments.
Environment Minister Shannon Phillips made the case to about 50 senators and others on Parliament Hill on Wednesday that the bill, which would change the rules for project approvals and replace the National Energy Board with a new Canadian energy regulator, would hurt Alberta.
“They’re too late to the game,” said Kenney, who added he’s written to the chair of the Senate’s natural resources committee asking to appear before it when it studies Bill C-69.
Premier Rachel Notley said earlier this week that the bill, along with the growing oil-price differential, highlight the urgent need to build new pipelines so Alberta can get its oil to markets.
She said the province would also push the federal government to increase capacity for oil and gas on rail, as a “short to medium term” solution to tackling the differential between the price Canada receives for its oil and the product’s trading value on the global market.
Kenney said it’s an idea he’s “open to” in the short term.
“But I can tell you the people I speak to in the energy sector are not super enthused about this being the solution,” he said. “Now we’re talking about taxpayers owning a pipeline and buying rail cars. This is not a long-term solution … The bottom line is that we need coastal pipelines, and rail cars are not going to solve that problem.”
“An Alberta United Conservative government will immediately convene the provincial legislature to pass bill No. 1, the carbon tax repeal act,” says UCP Leader Jason Kenney.