Edmonton Journal

Premier defends carbon rebate stance after PM lobs flip-flopping accusation

- LISA JOHNSON The Canadian Press, with files from Bill Graveland in Calgary

Premier Danielle Smith says although she once spoke positively of carbon rebates, the rising cost of the federal levy means Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can no longer justify it.

The United Conservati­ve premier was responding to Trudeau's comments earlier Friday that she appeared to have flip-flopped on the issue.

“If he has to point to a comment I made three years ago, it clearly shows he can't defend his current position,” Smith told a news conference in Brooks. “He's continued to pile on additional costs over the last few years, which has completely changed the calculus.”

On the weekend, federal Environmen­t Minister Steven Guilbeault posted a video on social media of Smith speaking in 2021 about the benefits of revenue-neutral carbon pricing.

In it, Smith said she received rebates that were greater than the carbon charge she paid for things like natural gas and fuel.

“I would say that I probably ended up better off with that transfer,” she said at the time.

However, on Friday Smith noted the most recent increase put the carbon price at $80 per tonne, up from $65 per tonne.

“He throws his argument out the window,” said Smith, adding that when she made her previous comments, she was comparing Trudeau's plan to that of the Alberta NDP, which had only rebated a portion of revenues to low-to-middle income earners when it was in government.

Soon after former UCP premier Jason Kenney killed the NDP's consumer carbon pricing program in 2019, the province was forced to accept Ottawa's levy.

Trudeau said Friday the Liberal government designed its carbon pricing program to combat climate change and put more money into the pockets of Canadians. He said eight out of 10 families get more in rebates than they pay.

“I'm going to choose to believe Danielle Smith of a few years ago before she started playing politics,” he said.

Later Friday, Trudeau told a business audience in Calgary that there are always going to be areas in which he and Smith disagree — “sometimes spectacula­rly.”

But he said the federal government would be there for Albertans.

“No matter what the premier says, no matter how much she is poking at me, I'm not walking away from Alberta.”

Smith, along with the premiers of Ontario, Saskatchew­an, New Brunswick and Newfoundla­nd and Labrador, have written open letters in recent days asking for Trudeau to convene a first ministers' meeting on the federal levy.

“The carbon tax has contribute­d to increasing stress and financial pain for millions of Canadians,” Smith wrote Thursday.

In his letter to Trudeau on Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford wrote, “While we all have a role in protecting the environmen­t, it cannot be done on the backs of hardworkin­g people.”

Trudeau turned down the call for a meeting on Friday.

“We had a meeting on carbon pricing and every single premier came together to work on establishi­ng a pan-Canadian framework on climate change years ago,” Trudeau said. “And part of it was that there would be a federal backstop to make sure that pollution wasn't free anywhere across the country.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada