Right after announcing the potential merger of Alberta’s Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties, Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney took aim at Ottawa, saying that he would be willing to sue the federal government if it tries to impose a carbon tax on his oil-rich province. “If I’m leading a Conservative government, bill number one of our first term of the legislature in the summer of 2019 would be the Carbon Tax Repeal Act,” the former federal Conservative cabinet minister told CTV Power Play on Thursday.
With a stated aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the federal government is currently giving provinces the chance to impose their own carbon pricing schemes. Those that haven’t done so by next spring will be subject to a federally imposed carbon tax. “It’s all economic pain and no environmental gain,” Kenney said. “All it does is to push investment outside the province into the energy sector elsewhere. It doesn’t reduce carbon emissions. It’s just another tax grab and that’s why we will repeal it.” Kenney criticized Alberta’s ruling NDP party, saying that nearly 70 per cent of Albertans are opposed to its provincial carbon tax plan. If the federal government attempts to impose a carbon tax on the province, Kenney said he’d be willing to join forces with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who has become the most vocal opponent of carbon pricing amongst Canada’s premiers. “If Justin Trudeau then tries to impose his federal carbon tax on us, we will link arms with Premier Brad Wall and sue the federal government for violating what we believe is provincial jurisdiction,” Kenney said. “Our declaration today says that this is a party that is loyal to a united Canada but will stand up and defend Alberta’s interests and areas of constitutional sovereignty and jurisdiction.” Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, however, says that Ottawa is well within its constitutional rights to impose a carbon tax on the country’s provinces. “The reality is we know polluting isn’t free,” McKenna told CTV Power Play on Thursday. “We need to take action.” Every other province, McKenna added, has been co-operating with the federal government.