FORT MCMURRAY, Alta.—Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is pouring cold water on British Columbia Liberal Leader Christy Clark’s election promise to put a hefty carbon tax on thermal coal.
Notley, a New Democrat, said she doesn’t think Clark would have the necessary power to pull it off if re-elected.
“We don’t think she actually has the authority to do it and we would argue that … something that would impact Alberta’s export industry like that is of course bad news for Albertans,” Notley said Wednesday.
Clark is locked in a tightly contested provincial election campaign and has proposed the $70-per-tonne tax on coal shipped through B.C. as a way to get back at the United States for softwood lumber duties.
Of the 6.6-million tonnes of thermal coal shipped last year through B.C. to China for power generation, 94 per cent came from the United States. Clark said the tax would make the product “utterly uncompetitive in the global market” and defend workers from the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump.
But Alberta also ships coal through B.C. and would be affected by any tax.
On Tuesday, Clark defended her position.
“We all need to be concerned about climate change,” she said. “In Alberta, they say they’re concerned about climate change. Here’s an opportunity for them to them to help make sure that we all join that fight together.”
Notley said reactions to the softwood lumber dispute need to come from all the provinces through Ottawa.
“We will continue to try to engage in thoughtful, pan-Canadian conversations with all provinces, including B.C. and of course the federal government that has most of the authority and the ability to act on these matters,” she said.
Notley has had to tread carefully as the election campaign has played out next door.
Clark is an ally for Alberta with her support of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would carry oil to the coast for export overseas. The NDP in B.C. has promised to do whatever it can to stop the project, which has already been approved by the federal government.
Earlier in the campaign, Notley told government workers that they shouldn’t be campaigning for any party opposed to a project that is so key to Alberta’s economic interests.