Protests were held in several Alberta cities, with organizers circulating a petition calling for the government to hold a referendum on the carbon tax
EDMONTON—Alberta’s Opposition leader told hundreds of people at a rally against a planned carbon tax that the province’s oil belongs to them.
Brian Jean stressed that no one at Saturday’s rally at the legislature was blaming Notley for low energy prices that have hurt Alberta’s economy.
But Brian Jean says Notley’s carbon tax is going to make things worse.
Other rallies were held at the same time in other Alberta cities, and organizers circulated a petition calling for the government to hold a referendum on the carbon tax.
Tracy Leite, who spoke at the rally, said the business she and her husband started together has been forced to lay people off.
Leite says Notley wouldn’t understand unless she had to sit across from someone and tell them they were losing their job.
“Not every business owner is a highly-paid executive. I’m hanging on by a fingernail,” Leite told the crowd.
On Jan. 1, a new carbon tax kicks in, which will increase prices at the gas pumps and on heating bills. There will be full or partial rebates for low- and middle-income Albertans.
Environment Minister Shannon Phillips also introduced Bill 25 in the legislature Tuesday that, if passed, will forbid oilsands industries from collectively emitting more than 100 megatonnes of greenhouse gases a year.
The bill is part of a multi-faceted plan being introduced in stages by Notley’s government to reduce the effects of climate change and to remake Alberta’s energy infrastructure into one that relies more on renewables such as wind, solar and hydro power.
Some people at the Edmonton rally questioned whether climate change was really a problem. Others acknowledged it, but said a carbon tax would only kick Alberta when it’s already down and wouldn’t stop carbon emitters like the U.S. and China.
Alicia Drader, a journeyman electrician who attended the rally, said green investment is a good thing, but said it won’t change things overnight. In the meantime, he said hasn’t worked since January and his EI benefits will run out in four weeks.
“It’s very stressing to not know what’s next, to now know what to do next. When you’ve exhausted sending out 200 resumes and you get a few phone calls and a handful of job interviews and then you end up having maybe 500 people going for two positions, it’s very challenging to get working,” Drader said.
“There’s a lot of people struggling.”
Jean told the crowd that Alberta’s oil is being “mishandled.” He rejected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent announcement that all provinces will need to set a baseline price for carbon by 2018, saying it’s potentially unconstitutional because it challenges the province’s right to manage its own natural resources.
“Our oil, our natural resources belong to us. They do not belong to Rachel Notley. They do not belong to Trudeau. They belong to the people of Alberta,” Jean told the crowd.