Ken­ney vows to fight back against fed­eral car­bon tax

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION - SAMMY HUDES With files from The Cana­dian Press [email protected]­media.com twit­ter.com/ Sam­myHudes

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.”

GAVIN YOUNG

“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.

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