Breakenridge: If Alberta needs to go it alone, a carbon tax is the place to begin

The important thing to countering Ottawa’s uneven and unfair software of the tax would possibly simply lie in a made-in-Alberta plan

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Provided that the federal carbon tax’s days might be numbered, we shouldn’t count on Alberta’s authorities to out of the blue embrace carbon pricing. Nevertheless, the important thing to countering Ottawa’s uneven and unfair software of the tax would possibly simply lie in a made-in-Alberta plan.

It was, mockingly, the UCP that ushered within the federal carbon tax in Alberta. As soon as Rachel Notley’s carbon tax was scrapped, Justin Trudeau’s tax crammed that void. After Alberta misplaced its constitutional problem, the UCP authorities appeared out of concepts, aside from to criticize the tax and hope that it will simply go away.

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Because of a potent cocktail of naiveties, ineptitude and short-sighted political calculations, the Liberals have achieved a outstanding job of turning public opinion in opposition to their very own central local weather change coverage. Regardless of that, they continue to be in authorities and the tax stays in place.

There are a lot of methods wherein the feds have weakened their carbon pricing scheme, however three stand out: the three-year exemption for dwelling heating oil (whereas nonetheless making use of the tax to pure gasoline for dwelling heating), accepting a de facto decrease carbon value in Quebec (ensuing from its cap-and-trade system), and pursuing an emissions cap on the oil and gasoline sector (the carbon value doesn’t in any other case distinguish between sources of emissions).

Sovereignty Act rhetoric apart, there’s not a lot Alberta can do on the emissions cap in need of launching one other courtroom problem. Nevertheless, with regards to the opposite two slights, Alberta may successfully counterpunch by way of our personal carbon tax.

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The rules across the federal carbon tax mandate is that it apply in provinces that wouldn’t have their very own comparable provincial carbon pricing system. Slightly than scrap the provincial carbon tax, the UCP may have merely adjusted it and saved the federal tax at bay.

Now, the expectation that any provincial carbon tax be similar to the federal tax hasn’t gone away. Nevertheless, the feds have despatched some fairly clear alerts about what they’re keen to tolerate. Alberta may seize on this.

For instance, if the federal authorities is unwilling to offer an exemption for pure gasoline for dwelling heating, Alberta may merely accomplish that with its personal carbon tax. Ottawa is having a tough time defending this new double customary; they’d have a fairly weak case for making an attempt to power the hand of a province that provided related reduction to ratepayers.

Moreover, if Ottawa is content material with the worth of carbon being decrease in Quebec, how may it presumably object to an similar value in one other province? The present price of the federal carbon levy is $65 per tonne, however underneath Quebec’s system, the precise value is extra like $40 per tonne. Whereas now Albertans are caught paying the previous, a made-in-Alberta levy may cost the latter.

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After all, the desire for the UCP and its supporters is not any carbon tax in any respect. However we’ve been caught with a carbon tax for a number of years now and should be caught with one for at the very least a pair extra years. It’s a straightforward goal for Alberta’s political leaders, however all these political factors they’ve been racking up aren’t of a lot use in the true world.

Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in regards to the carbon tax rebate throughout a information convention in Ottawa on Thursday Oct. 26, 2023. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

It’s actually attainable that the Liberals, in full denial or ignorance of their very own hypocrisy, would attempt to cease Alberta from following via on such a plan. However that may put the ball squarely of their courtroom, which is the very state of affairs the premier has used to promote the Sovereignty Act: why problem Ottawa in courtroom once we can power them to take us to courtroom?

If the subsequent authorities in Ottawa chooses to scrap the federal carbon tax, Alberta may do likewise. However within the meantime, this might be a useful gizmo to defend Alberta from the craven whims of a flailing federal authorities.

“Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” airs weekdays from 12:30 to three p.m. on QR Calgary

[email protected]

Twitter: @RobBreakenridge

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