Tuesday, May 18

Carbon tax pricing: Jason Kenney no longer has a choice

Like the episode Keystone XL, Prime Minister Jason Kenney was certain to emerge victorious in the legal duel, engaged for two years, on the pricing of the carbon tax. Today, the decision to grant full powers to Ottawa leaves little choice to the Alberta government and leaves Jason Kenney destabilized and without a plan B.

“It was our hope to win, but now we are going to consult Albertans on the way forward,” said the disappointed Premier of Alberta at a press briefing last Friday. Mr. Kenney conceded that his government had not prepared an alternative plan, persuaded to succeed in this thorny file.

However, since March 25, the die is cast for Alberta and the other two sister provinces, resistant [la Saskatchewan et l’Ontario] concerning the effective application of a carbon tax. Now, “The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is constitutional,” reads the judgment rendered and signed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Richard Wagner.

“It was the last political battle that the three provinces could possibly win,” said Marc Lacrampe, engineering and business management consultant in Calgary. Today, Alberta, like the other two provinces, seems to be capitulating and can no longer leave room for ambiguity. “We have to face the facts and this implies that each government must now have a plan that meets the requirements of the federal government”, puts in perspective Frédéric Boily, specialist in Canadian and Quebec politics, at the Campus Saint-Jean from the University of Alberta.

Six judges voted overwhelmingly to give Ottawa full power over GHG pricing in the country. The threat is considered, here, of the “utmost importance” both for Canada and for the whole world, to the point where carbon pricing is not left to the goodwill of each province and each territory.

As had already stated, at Duty, the consultant, Marc Lacrampe within the framework of the Paris Agreement, “the national effort goes through the provinces, in particular Alberta”. The recent Supreme Court decision therefore puts the ball in the center for the province, which is beating a record greenhouse gas rate.

According to the federal government, this province recorded an 18% increase in its GHGs, or 232 million tonnes in 2005 against 273 million tonnes in 2018. Figures that do not help Canada reduce its gas emissions by at least 30% greenhouse effect by 2030, within the framework of the Paris Agreement.

Yet “Alberta had a system in place that met federal criteria. After his election [en avril 2019] Jason Kenney, however, removed the carbon levy. It also decided to remove the system for large emitters and set up its own system, ”explains Isabelle Turcotte, director of federal policy at the Pembina Institute in Ottawa.

Confusing vocabulary

Even today, the terminology carbon tax is perceived as an additional tax and still remains poorly understood in public opinion. The Supreme Court itself specifies that it is a regulatory tool that does not generate profits under any circumstances.

“The issue of disinformation is really important,” she laments. “Opponents of the carbon tax have said many times that it will cost Canadians dearly. But what they do not say is that the royalty is fully redistributed, it goes directly to people in the province, ”clarifies the director of the Pembina Institute. In fact, in Alberta, the carbon tax has already been paid to its inhabitants through the federal and non-provincial government, verifiable on the T1 tax return. Thus, in 2020, an adult could receive an average amount of $ 490, while a four-person household would receive $ 980.

In the meantime, for Marc Lacrampe, Alberta no longer really has a choice and the signals are piling up. “On March 25, the same day as the Supreme Court’s announcement, the American Petroleum Institute hinted at its support for the implementation of the carbon tax by the Canadian Supreme Court,” he concludes.


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