Premier Jason Kenney arrives to a meeting with Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley and senators in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday, May 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

Alberta set to pass law to kill provincial carbon tax, as federal tax looms

Kenney has said if Ottawa impose its fee, he will join Saskatchewan and Ontario in fighting it in court

Alberta’s consumer carbon tax is dead, setting the stage for a showdown with Ottawa over the imposition of a new one.

The province cancelled its tax on gasoline at the pumps and on home heating fuels just after midnight Thursday morning.

Later in the day, the legislature was to pass third and final reading of An Act to Repeal the Carbon Tax to make the change official.

The bill was a signature campaign promise of Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives, who won a majority government last month.

Kenney told the house Thursday that the bill delivers a merciful end to a tax that didn’t stop the global rise of greenhouse gas emissions but did hurt working families.

“We have barely been in office for a month and we are already, today, delivering to Albertans the biggest tax break in our province’s history,” Kenney told the house as his UCP caucus members applauded.

In Ottawa, Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna decried Alberta’s decision to end the provincial carbon tax, which she dubbed the “make pollution free again bill.”

She said Canada will move quickly to impose the federal version on Alberta.

“We’re looking to do it as soon as possible,” said McKenna.

Alberta now joins New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — provinces that have declined to impose their own carbon levys, leaving Ottawa to impose one for them.

Kenney has said if Ottawa impose its fee, he will join Saskatchewan and Ontario in fighting it in court.

Alberta is expected to argue that Ottawa does not have the constitutional authority to levy the tax and that, in any event, Alberta is already paying one with its current tax of greenhouse gases on large emitters.

Alberta’s fee, launched on Jan. 1, 2017 by the previous NDP government, taxed carbon at $30 tonne. Drivers were paying almost seven cents a litre more this year with the provincial carbon tax, along with $1.51 a gigajoule on natural gas for heating. Energy Efficiency Alberta says the typical Alberta household uses 120 gigajoules a year.

The federal tax is $20 a tonne but is set to rise annually until it hits $50 a tonne in 2022.

The Alberta tax brought in an estimated $2 billion, much of that rebated to low and middle-income families. It also funded a range of green projects from rapid transit to energy saving light bulbs.

Families will also get rebates from the federal tax.

McKenna said her department has already done preliminary math, given that Kenney’s bill was expected pass, and estimates a family of four in Alberta will get $700 in rebates when they file their 2019 taxes a year from now.

That’s higher than the $377 expected in New Brunswick, $451 in Ontario and $449 in Manitoba. A family in Saskatchewan would get $903.

The rebates are based on the expected amount people will pay. Provinces where coal and natural gas are used more heavily for heating and electricity are likely to shoulder higher carbon tax bills.

McKenna said Kenney is taking a page from the same playbook as Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

“They don’t have a plan to tackle climate change and they don’t have a plan to grow the economy,” said McKenna.

In the legislature, Kenney criticized and mocked former premier Rachel Notley for bringing in the provincial carbon tax, especially after not running on it in the 2015 election campaign.

He said the tax didn’t deal with climate change and didn’t deliver any “social licence” to garner further national or international support or acceptance of Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

“So what is the point?” Kenney said rhetorically.

“The best answer I can come up with is this: it makes them feel better about themselves. It makes them feel virtuous. And it makes the NDP feel like somehow they are saving the planet.”

READ MORE: B.C. carbon tax up April 1, other provinces begin to catch up

READ MORE: Saskatchewan top court rules 3-2 federal carbon tax is constitutional

ALSO READ: Alberta introduces bill to change overtime pay, reduce youth minimum wage

— With files from Mia Rabson in Ottawa

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Barry Marchi’s spirits high as treatment in Seattle continues

Barry Marchi’s spirits are high as he continues treatment in the United… Continue reading

PHOTOS: 2019 Wapiti Music Festival

With eyes to the stage and hands to the sky the crowd… Continue reading

New art gallery opens downtown Fernie

Two local artists, Tara Higgins and Kerri Holmes have joined forces to open H2 Studio Gallery

Search continues for new leads in Mt. Bisaro cave system

Cavers returning October, November to push new leads, extend Canada’s deepest cave near Fernie

Wildfire update in the Southeast Fire Centre

No fires currently pose a threat to structures or communities, says BC Wildfire Service

VIDEO: Canadian zoos’ captive breeding programs help preserve endangered species

Programs considered last-ditch effort to prevent local extinctions of turtles, butterflies and more

River rescue near Fernie prompts log jam warning

The City of Fernie announced at the beginning of August a dangerous… Continue reading

Black Pistol Fire ignites Wapiti festival crowd

Off stage, Kevin McKeown is a calm, collected individual. On stage, he… Continue reading

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

B.C. log export rules killing us, northwest harvester says

NorthPac Forestry says Skeena Sawmills has plenty of timber

Environment groups warned saying climate change is real could be seen as partisan

Talk of climate change could be viewed as advocating against Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada

Most Read