Danielle Smith says carbon pricing policy has changed since her past comments about benefits

Click to play video: 'Carbon tax hike: Premiers Danielle Smith, Blaine Higgs pressed on alternative climate plan'
Carbon tax hike: Premiers Danielle Smith, Blaine Higgs pressed on alternative climate plan
WATCH ABOVE: (From March 28, 2024) A House of Commons committee hearing on carbon pricing was held in Ottawa on Thursday – Mar 28, 2024

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says although she once spoke positively of carbon rebates, the rising cost of the federal levy means Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can no longer justify it.

The United Conservative premier was responding to Trudeau’s comments earlier Friday that she appeared to have flip-flopped on the issue.

“If he has to point to a comment I made three years ago, it clearly shows he can’t defend his current position,” Smith told an unrelated news conference in Brooks, Alta.

“He’s continued to pile on additional costs over the last few years, which has completely changed the calculus.”

On the weekend, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault posted a video on social media of Smith speaking in 2021 about the benefits of revenue-neutral carbon pricing.

In it, Smith said she received rebates that were greater than the carbon charge she paid for things like natural gas and fuel.

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“I would say that I probably ended up better off with that transfer,” she said at the time.

However, on Friday Smith noted the most recent increase put the carbon price at $80 per tonne beginning April 1, up from $65 per tonne.

“He throws his argument out the window,” said Smith, adding that when she made her previous comments, she was comparing Trudeau’s plan to that of the Alberta NDP, which had only rebated a portion of revenues to low-to-middle income earners when it was in government.

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Soon after former UCP premier Jason Kenney killed the NDP’s consumer carbon pricing program in 2019, the province was forced to accept Ottawa’s levy.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith addresses a news conference in Ottawa on Monday, Feb.5, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau said Friday the Liberal government designed its carbon pricing program to combat climate change and put more money into the pockets of Canadians. He said eight out of 10 families get more in rebates than they pay.

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“I’m going to choose to believe Danielle Smith of a few years ago before she started playing politics,” he said.

Later Friday, Trudeau told a business audience in Calgary that there are always going to be areas in which he and Smith disagree — “sometimes spectacularly.”

But he said the federal government would be there for Albertans.

“No matter what the premier says, no matter how much she is poking at me, I’m not walking away from Alberta.”

Smith, along with the premiers of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, have written open letters in recent days asking for Trudeau to convene a first ministers’ meeting on the federal levy.

“The carbon tax has contributed to increasing stress and financial pain for millions of Canadians,” Smith wrote to the prime minister Thursday.

In his letter to Trudeau on Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford wrote, “While we all have a role in protecting the environment, it cannot be done on the backs of hardworking people.”

Trudeau turned down the call for a meeting on Friday.

“We had a meeting on carbon pricing and every single premier came together to work on establishing a pan-Canadian framework on climate change years ago,” Trudeau said.

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“And part of it was that there would be a federal backstop to make sure that pollution wasn’t free anywhere across the country.”

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