The Alberta government announced Thursday it has filed a constitutional challenge of the federal government’s carbon tax — something Premier Jason Kenney had promised during the 2019 election campaign.
The government said the federal tax, which is imposed on any province that doesn’t establish its own policy, “disrupts the balance of Canada’s federation by undermining Alberta’s constitutional power to manage its own local undertakings, natural resources, economy and greenhouse gases emissions plan.”
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“The federal carbon tax is a clear invasion of Alberta’s jurisdiction — it is all economic pain for no environmental gain,” Kenney said.
“This federal cash grab will only punish Albertans for heating their homes and driving to work.”
The federal carbon tax was mandated in Alberta on June 13 after the Kenney government passed legislation on June 1 to eliminate the previous NDP government’s provincial policy. It is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
In a news release, Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said the federally-imposed tax “infringes on our province’s authority to make policy choices within our own jurisdiction.
“Historically, Alberta has had a strong legacy of advancing our province’s rights and I am proud that our government will be defending Alberta’s interests in court.”
The UCP said the carbon tax would result in the loss of 6,000 jobs and $2.4 million being lost from Albertans’ pockets. It also said the tax will result in the cost of food and other goods in Alberta going up, making the province less competitive in the rest of the country and the world.
“The federal government has recently announced that it will impose a carbon tax on Albertans starting Jan. 1, 2020,” Schweitzer said in Edmonton. “Our government contends this constitutes federal overreach into our exclusive provincial jurisdiction to manage our own affairs in a way that is suitable to local conditions.”
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Schweitzer, who pegged court costs at about $300,000, said the province will use every legal tool at its disposal to fight Ottawa’s carbon price and will “continue to support other province’s challenges against this federal tax grab.”
A spokeswoman for Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Kenney is following in the footsteps of other Conservative leaders.
“Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars in court fighting climate action, we would have hoped to see the premier join with us to fight climate change,” an emailed statement from press secretary Sabrina Kim said.
“Jason Kenney knows full well that he’s trading a made-in-Alberta approach to pricing pollution for the federal backstop. That’s the choice he made when he decided to tear up Alberta’s climate plan.”
McKenna said the country has “a serious plan” when it comes to tackling climate change, and said the carbon tax is “a practical and affordable way to cut pollution.”
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An average family of four can expect to get a rebate of $888 next year after the federal tax is applied in Alberta, Kim said.
Ottawa is also planning to direct some of the tax money toward making buildings more energy efficient.
Several studies have shown that British Columbia’s carbon tax has decreased that province’s emissions by 15 per cent and reduced its per-capita gasoline and natural gas use.
— With files from The Canadian Press