The crowd chanted “lock her up” as Conservative leadership hopeful Chris Alexander spoke about Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s energy policy at an Edmonton rally.
As they chanted the refrain that became popular during president-elect Donald Trump’s campaign, Alexander smiled, and appeared to gesture in time with the chant, nodding along.
The incident happened at an anti-carbon tax rally at the Alberta legislature on Saturday. Several hundred people gathered with signs in hand, calling on the NDP government to put an end to the tax.
It is set to take effect in the new year and is being touted by the NDP as a way to fight climate change and reduce the province’s carbon footprint.
But protesters at the rally said it would hurt Alberta families in the long run, by taxing home heating and gas at the pumps.
“This carbon tax is going hurt every family,” protester Chris Christianson said. “I think it’s important to show that we’re taking a stand- we don’t want this carbon tax.”
Saturday’s rally was hosted by conservative news and opinion website The Rebel. Video of the chanting incident was posted on Twitter by the website’s Alberta bureau chief Sheila Gunn Reid.
Alexander, a former immigration minister, says he thinks the chant is “wrong,” and tried to change the refrain to “vote her out,” which he says isn’t picked up by the video.
He says that once people finished chanting, he went on to talk about what voters can do at the ballot box.
Rebel Media, which is run by right-wing political commentator Ezra Levant, was denied access to government press conference earlier this year because it wasn’t considered a news organization. Rebel Media fought back for the right to cover politics and the ban was rescinded. The situation triggered a debate over what constitutes journalism in the digital era.
Saturday’s event was the second such rally at the Legislature in less than a month.
On Nov. 5, a similar rally was held at the Legislature and across Alberta, also protesting the carbon tax. Those rallies were organized by citizen groups.
In both cases, protesters called for the province to hold a referendum on the tax.
“If the people don’t want a tax, why should we have a tax pushed upon us?” Christianson said.
On Jan. 1, 2017, gas prices will jump 4.5 cents per litre. Diesel will go up 5.4 cents a litre and natural gas will increase by $1.01 per gigajoule.
Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said the tax was developed following consultations with Albertans.
Proceeds from the tax will be reinvested in energy efficiency programs for households, businesses and non-profits, green energy projects and innovative technology designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and diversify the economy.
The opposition has said the tax would not be necessary if the NDP stepped back from phasing out coal, and implementing a carbon tax.
Wildrose leader Brian Jean said it would be smart for the NDP to hold a referendum on the tax.
The NDP government estimates the tax will cost an average family about $500 a year by 2018 and about $960 by 2030.
— With files from The Canadian Press