Jason Kenney promises referendum on equalization payments if feds continue to push carbon tax

UCP leader Jason Kenney.
UCP leader Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

Over the weekend Jason Kenney reiterated his position on the NDP’s carbon tax, saying repealing the “job-killing carbon tax” would be one of his first moves if elected premier in 2019.

The United Conservative Party leader doubled-down on the potential policy in a statement on Monday and called for a provincial referendum if the federal government continue to push a carbon tax on the provinces.

“If the federal government continues its attacks through the National Energy Board (NEB) and the federal carbon tax, then Alberta should take a common-sense approach and hold a referendum demanding the removal of non-renewable resource revenues from the equalization formula,” Kenney said.

The statement added this would “massively reduce Alberta’s contribution to equalization.”

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Kenney was a federal cabinet minister who was at the bargaining table when the current equalization formula was put in place. Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, says Kenney is using equalization to provoke his base.

“Jason Kenney knows enough about the equalization formula, but most Albertans do not,” said Bratt. “They think that Alberta writes a direct cheque to Quebec, they don’t understand it’s a federal program. Jason Kenney knows all of this, but he is using this because the symbol of it will rile up Albertans.”

Bratt adds the NEB, federal carbon tax and the equalization program all fall under federal jurisdiction. The environment also falls under federal responsibilities, and any revenue from a federal carbon tax would stay in Alberta.

The UCP leader added that he would join our neighbours to the east in challenging the federal carbon tax in the courts,

“I would join with Saskatchewan in their constitutional challenge against the Trudeau Liberals carbon tax and apply for intervener status to make the argument that the carbon tax is an intrusion in provincial jurisdiction,” Kenney wrote.

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Duane Bratt points out it would be a long and tough fight for Kenney, and would waste countless tax dollars in court.

“If Jason Kenney is elected premier of Alberta, we’re looking at a series of national unity conflicts,” said Bratt. “Whether these would be successful or not, it would take up an awful lot of energy in the federation.”

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