By Irina Slav
Staying true to their promise from the campaign trail, Alberta’s Conservatives have introduced a bill to repeal a carbon tax introduced by their predecessors at the helm of the province, the New Democratic Party.
Reuters reports that the repealment of the carbon tax was planned to be the first piece of legislation to be tabled by the new Conservative government of Jason Kenney, but adds that it would automatically enact a federal law on carbon taxes that targets provinces that do not have their own legislation to this effect.
“The carbon tax has been all economic pain and no environmental gain. If Justin Trudeau’s government then seeks to impose a federal carbon tax in Alberta, we will see him in court,” Alberta’s Premier told media. This will add Alberta to three other provinces that have taken the federal government to court over the carbon tax: Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. The last of these provinces lost its case in a win for the federal government.
According to the Alberta government, repealing the tax will bring more than a billion dollars into the provincial coffers and create as many as 6,000 new jobs—a sensitive issue in the energy industry-dependent province that has yet to fully recover from the 2014 oil price crisis.
The carbon tax repealment effort is just part of Jason Kenney’s agenda. The new Premier came to power pledging to help the industry recover and so far he has been following his priorities in this respect.
As soon as it became clear who won the elections in Alberta, Kenney threatened British Columbia to turn the gasoline tap off “within an hour” of taking office if it continues to try and stop the Trans Mountain expansion. While he didn’t do that, he did immediately table the pipeline issue at talks with the Premiers of both British Columbia and Quebec once he took office earlier this year.
“You don’t start a relationship by shouting at each other. You start it by talking and trying to find common ground,” the Alberta Premier-designate told media. “We will begin with the path of diplomacy and … we hope that we don’t need to use more forceful measures to assert Alberta’s vital economic interests,” the Alberta Premier told media at the time.
In addition to pipeline pressure and the removal of the carbon tax, Kenney has said he planned to hold a referendum in Alberta regarding the so-called equalization payments that the federal government distributes to smooth out financial inequalities among provinces. Plans are to tie these payments to the construction of new pipelines.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com