Premier Rachel Notley has drawn a line in the sand after the federal government has introduced an escalating carbon pricing scheme that will be imposed on all provinces if they don’t come up with one of their own.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off a debate in the House of Commons Monday over whether Canada should ratify the Paris accord on climate change. He said to help reach Canada’s target, the federal Liberal government will establish a “floor price” on carbon pollution of $10 a tonne in 2018, rising to $50 a tonne by 2022.
“Provinces and Territories will have a choice in how they implement this pricing,” Trudeau said in his speech. “They can put a direct price on carbon pollution or they can adopt a cap and trade system with the expectation that it be stringent enough to meet or exceed the federal benchmark.”
While Premier Notley supports the goal of the program, she told reporters at Edmonton’s City Hall where she was for an event, that Alberta still needs a pipeline to get its product to tide water to make carbon pricing affordable.
“As far as we’re concerned, we can’t be talking about prices that got rolled out today until we get the commitment from this federal government that they’re going to move on this fundamentally important economic piece that Albertans need and quite frankly all Canadians need.”
“We are saying, in order for us to continue doing that, in order for us to come back from the oil price crash that we’re all experiencing from, we need Canada to have our back, and we need to get a pipeline. We think the two are aligned.”
Notley’s stance made enemies of former friends. Greenpeace was quick to turn on her. “It’s incredible that the Alberta government would withhold its support for an action to combat climate change until it gets a new pipeline that further accelerates the problem,” Greenpeace said in a release.
“Premier Notley should not be offering any support for this plan, period,” Wildrose leader Brian Jean said in a statement. “Tying a single pipeline approval to taxation sets a dangerous precedent and Alberta needs to make it clear to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this will never be acceptable. Our province’s economic interests should not be held hostage by politicians in Ottawa.
“The reality is, families in Alberta need a break. Raising taxes and making life more expensive is not a solution.”
And in Saskatchewan, Premier Brad Wall took Trudeau to task for “unilaterally” imposing a carbon price on the provinces, calling it a “stunning” level of disrespect. Wall said Trudeau’s plan of setting a floor price on carbon, and forcing it on the provinces if they won’t co-operate, will hurt Saskatchewan the most.
(630-CHED News-with files from the Canadian Press)