Breakenridge: Ottawa began the battle that's brewing over clear power guidelines

Breakenridge: Ottawa began the battle that's brewing over clear power guidelines

In an occasion the place Ottawa could be blatantly trampling on provincial jurisdiction, it’s unsurprising that acrimony would come up

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It was a lot happier occasions between Alberta and Ottawa earlier this 12 months when the 2 sides signed a serious new bilateral health-care funding settlement.

After all, it’s a lot simpler to seek out widespread floor when the start line is a joint recognition of what’s clear provincial jurisdiction. The Canada Well being Act and the federal well being minister is perhaps two precise issues that exist however, in actuality, Ottawa doesn’t have a lot say over well being care. That’s to not say the feds don’t have expectations and most popular outcomes, however the carrot and the stick Ottawa wields is restricted to offering or withholding federal {dollars}.

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Then again, in an occasion the place Ottawa could be blatantly trampling on provincial jurisdiction, it’s unsurprising that acrimony would come up. In terms of federal ambition for clear electrical energy, the constitutionally accountable method could be one thing nearer to the well being accords: Ottawa identifies a objective after which seeks agreements with the provinces.

Sadly, that’s not what the federal authorities is doing. Maybe emboldened by the Supreme Courtroom resolution that upheld the constitutionality of carbon pricing, the feds are urgent forward with their clear electrical energy rules and the objective of a net-zero energy grid by 2035. The existence of carbon pricing, nonetheless, undermines the necessity for Ottawa to intrude right here since these emissions are topic to pricing (technically, that’s beneath Alberta’s TIER rules, however that levy will improve in alignment with the federal carbon levy).

Below the Structure Act, the provinces have unique jurisdiction over the “growth, conservation and administration of websites and services within the province for the technology and manufacturing {of electrical} power.” If Ottawa needs to see provinces train that jurisdiction in a way that helps to attain a sure goal or objective, then agreements to that finish may be negotiated.

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On this case, that ought to be separate agreements with every province. In terms of the trail to a net-zero grid, for some provinces it’s a lot easier and shorter. For others — Alberta included — the trail is for much longer and way more tough. Arguably, it’s not lifelike in any respect given the stringency of the proposed rules. So not solely is Ottawa ham-handedly intruding on provincial jurisdiction right here, however is doing so in a really unfair and arbitrary method.

This can be destined to finish up earlier than the courts, though that’s not a certainty on condition that these rules don’t formally take impact till Jan. 1, 2035. Thoughts you, it’s plain that the draft rules and the declared federal intentions will put an actual and rapid chill on funding in Alberta within the space of latest pure gasoline capability. In that sense, that is hardly summary or hypothetical.

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After all, Alberta has gone out of its approach to put its personal chill on funding due to its ham-handed, unfair and arbitrary moratorium on renewable power tasks. If Alberta needs to show a willingness to be a companion on clear power, that’s not a perfect place to begin.

In the end, there’s a necessity for each side to compromise and to point out some flexibility to seek out widespread floor. However let’s not additionally neglect how we acquired right here within the first place — Ottawa selected this path.

Premier Danielle Smith’s assertion final week invitations Ottawa to make use of the forthcoming working group as a chance to carry provincial and federal plans and targets into alignment. Nevertheless, the assertion additionally declares that these draft rules “won’t be applied in our province — interval.”

Whereas which will sound like Alberta is selecting a battle, this isn’t a battle that Alberta began. This doesn’t should be a battle in any respect, however a desire for pleasantries shouldn’t give the federal authorities licence to intrude on clear provincial jurisdiction.

The one approach to really defuse this case is for Ottawa to acknowledge that it has overstepped its bounds.

“Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” airs weekdays from 12:30 to three p.m. on QR Calgary and a couple of to three p.m. on 630CHED

[email protected]

Twitter: @RobBreakenridge

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