Canadian Manufacturing

Alberta justice minister says province will ‘fight back’ against carbon tax

A litre of gas is expected to cost about four cents more, with that levy increasing to almost seven cents in April



CALGARY—Alberta is promising to continue its fight against the federal consumer carbon tax as the price of gasoline in the province is set to jump.

Starting Wednesday, a litre of gas is expected to cost about four cents more, with that levy increasing to almost seven cents in April.

The federal Liberals are accompanying the tax with a rebate program.

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer told a news conference at a Calgary truck stop on Tuesday that people should gas up quickly.

“We want to make sure as well that Albertans know that even though our taxes are going up, that we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that we fight back against this federal overreach and make sure Albertans know that we have their backs,” Schweitzer said.

The federal government says the average Alberta household will receive about $880 under the rebate program, which is about $170 more than it is expected to pay.

Schweitzer said he doesn’t believe that will be the case.

“I don’t buy that at all. Look at Albertans right now. Alberta is struggling. We need jobs in this province,” he said.

“The cost of everything is going to start going up.”

The four-cent increase represents a carbon tax of $20 per tonne of carbon dioxide, increasing to $30 in the spring.

Those who live in small or rural communities will receive a higher rebate, and fuel used for farm machinery can be exempted from the tax.

Municipalities, public institutions, small businesses and Indigenous communities are also to receive extra funding to help them lower their energy costs.

Alberta is challenging the federal tax in the province’s Court of Appeal. Arguments were heard in December and the court has yet to rule.

Ontario and Saskatchewan lost previous challenges of the tax in their top courts and are appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada. Alberta is supporting them in their legal action.

“We’re waiting to see what the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision will have in the New Year. And we’re hoping to have that decision done before the Supreme Court case, which is going to be heard in March,” Schweitzer said.

“We’re going to keep that fight going. This is federal overreach plain and simple. This is clearly provincial jurisdiction.”

Alberta had a consumer carbon tax under the previous New Democrat government, which was rescinded by the United Conservatives in May. The government has since imposed a carbon tax of $30 a tonne on industrial emitters, which has been approved by Ottawa.

“Alberta is doing its part to tackle global emissions. Our plan invests in real technological solutions. It doesn’t punish people for driving to work and heating their homes,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday on Twitter.

He said his government won’t relent in its legal fight against the consumer tax.

“We won’t roll over like the previous NDP government did. This is Alberta’s jurisdiction, and we will fight for it.”

—With files from Bob Weber in Edmonton

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2020

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