One year into her mandate, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and her NDP friends are going full steam ahead on her climate change strategy, particularly the so-called carbon tax that, in theory, will encourage Albertans to stop contributing to global warming.
However, questions remain about the speed at which Notley is introducing these changes and what effect, other than public relations purposes, the changes will have on Alberta.
As Official Opposition leader Brian Jean pointed out May 24, the warnings that Notley gave about the carbon tax costing everyday Albertans more was an understatement. “Albertans are hurting across the province and many families are waking up wondering if they will be able to hold on to their job by the end of the month,” Jean said in a press release. “An aggressive carbon tax that simply squeezes families and businesses for every spare penny will not help people pay their mortgages or get back to work. Without acting in concert with competing economies here in North America, this tax will just make it more difficult for our economy to recover.”
The Wildrose leader made a good point. Not only is this carbon tax lunacy creating uncertainty for working class Albertans who can’t afford it, there are hundreds of thousands of senior citizens sitting around the province right now, thinking about their fixed incomes and how Notley’s climate-friendly public relations stunt is going to affect their lives. Apparently, those in control in Edmonton are not aware Alberta is in recession right now, with no end in sight.
Even Notley’s friends on the left don’t seem to understand where the NDP leader is coming from discussing a shadowy bill with few details. Alberta Liberal leader David Swann noted, “The stated purpose of the carbon tax is to reduce consumption but 60 per cent of Albertan households will receive the full rebate amount. How will this incentivize conservation and what metrics did the government use to determine how much tax is enough to change behaviour?
“A primary goal of the plan was supposedly to provide incentives for a new energy future of renewable power. However, the bill doesn’t provide any targets for renewable energy, not even guidelines.
“Measurement of environmental progress is now firmly in the hands of the environment ministry. What methods are they using to determine the effectiveness of the Climate Leadership Plan? Will this process be transparent? How is the monitoring going to be independently checked?”
Why not try an approach which has tangible results for the climate and Albertans? For instance, encourage Albertans to purchase vehicles that are fuel efficient, say, 20 miles to the gallon at minimum, and refund the taxpayer 25 per cent of the purchase price of the vehicle. At the same time, if an 18 year old Albertan wants to buy a one ton super-lifted pick-up truck that belches pollution and gets about four miles to the gallon, a tax is placed on that vehicle. The tax, in theory, is the money that gets rebated to the Albertan who bought the fuel efficient car, truck or SUV.
But this idea doesn’t include a new department that can be filled up with NDP retreads like Bob Hawksworth enjoying a six-figure salary. A common sense approach is just going to confuse Notley and her party anyway.