Alberta’s former deputy premier entered the province’s NDP leadership on Sunday with criticism of the federal carbon tax and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Sarah Hoffman, who was deputy premier when the NDP was elected in 2015, joins fellow lawmakers Kathleen Ganley and Rakhi Pancholi in the race to replace Rachel Notley, who announced last month she was resigning.
The new leader will be elected in June.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Hoffman, 43, said his priorities during the campaign will be health care, housing and climate change.
Edmonton legislature member Glenora said if the NDP had been more willing to engage with voters on climate change during last year’s election campaign, it could have generated enough support to defeat the United Conservative Party under current Premier Danielle Smith.
As far as Hoffman is concerned, the federal carbon charge on consumers needs to be eliminated.
“I think the carbon excise tax is dead. It died at the provincial level in the last election. The feds took it over. Justin Trudeau played dirty politics with it and picked winners and losers. If you don’t have public support, don’t you can continue with something like that,” Hoffman said.
“I know Albertans do care about climate. We have to act. But a carbon excise tax is not the model that has momentum or support right now. So we need to find new tools that will be successful.”
Hoffman plans to release details about his strategy during the campaign, he said, but big polluters need to pay more and can probably afford it.
Alberta NDP leadership candidate says federal carbon tax is “dead.” #ABPoli #CDNPoli #CarbonTax
He said he realizes his position might surprise Alberta voters, since the NDP set its own carbon price in 2015, but he wants everyone involved in the fight against climate change.
“No one agrees with what Justin Trudeau did with the federal carbon tax. He absolutely broke trust when he looked at the polls in eastern Canada and decided to exempt them,” Hoffman said.
The governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan have criticized Ottawa for its decision to exempt home heating oil from the federal carbon tax, a move that primarily benefits Atlantic Canadians, and not do the same for natural gas, which is used widely to heat homes in those western provinces. .
“There’s no way people can agree with the federal plan when not even the prime minister agrees, when he’s playing with it,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman isn’t the only NDP leader hoping to target carbon loading.
Rakhi Pancholi, a two-term member of the Edmonton legislature who announced her run for the NDP leadership last week, said climate change and the carbon tax are among the pressing issues for Albertans.
“There is an opportunity to re-evaluate some of the positions we have taken as a party, but also reflect where Albertans are. One idea I would like to discuss more with Albertans… is to move away from the consumption tax on carbon emissions”. Pancholi said.
“We know that general public opinion on this hasn’t changed in seven years, and Albertans in particular haven’t bought into the idea that this is a revenue-neutral proposal.”
Pancholi said he would like to talk to Albertans, economists, the oil and gas sector, the renewable energy sector and environmentalists about the issue.
“I think it’s time to not get stuck on ideas we used to have, but to look at new ideas and think about ways to develop a robust climate action plan that can move away from a consumption tax on carbon.”
Ganley, a member of the Calgary legislature and the first to put her name in the leadership race on Monday, did not directly address carbon pricing when asked about it.
“We will have a lot of policies to publish and a lot of things to say. What I believe is that I am in favor of policies that result in decarbonization,” he said.
“My preference is to do it in a way that generates the most economic growth possible for the province. There are many ways to achieve that goal.”
With files from Colette Derworiz in Calgary
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 11, 2024.