As Alberta Premier Jason Kenney pushes forward with a plan to scrap the province’s carbon tax, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says he shouldn’t ignore climate science — especially in the face of wildfires raging across the western province.
“Alberta needs to be part of the climate plan as much as any other province, especially as we transition to a cleaner future,” McKenna told Cross Country Checkup guest host Reshmi Nair in an interview Sunday night.
Alberta is facing several out-of-control wildfires, a scenario that researchers say will become more common as warmer climate conditions lead to earlier and more intense wildfire seasons.
In a Wednesday throne speech introducing his first piece of legislation to repeal the carbon tax, Kenney said his government is “taking action to the commitment we made to Albertans to repeal this tax grab which is all economic pain and no environmental gain.”
Kenney’s bill follows a similar move by Ontario’s Conservative government to end a federal carbon tax in favour of a provincial climate strategy.
Alberta’s consumer carbon tax is now officially gone.
Members of the legislature voted Monday night to pass the bill that repeals the tax, and it was signed into law by Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell.
The province stopped charging the tax last week, and the federal government announced it will soon replace the fee with its own carbon levy.
The province is taking the federal government to court over Ottawa’s promised imposition of its carbon tax on Albertans.
Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said Thursday he believes the move constitutes federal overreach into the right of the province to manage its own affairs.
“Imposing a federal carbon tax on Albertans constitutes federal interference with our constitutional authority to make policy decisions within our own jurisdiction,” Schweitzer said.
“The constitutional reference has implications beyond the carbon tax that every Canadian should be concerned about.”
Although the federal government hasn’t yet officially unveiled its concrete carbon tax plan for Alberta, Schweitzer argued signals out of Ottawa that it will go ahead with a backstop program makes this the right time to head to court.
“We need to take action now to make sure we defend Alberta’s interests,” he said.