The Choice: A UCP $1.4 Billion Carbon Tax Cut or the NDP’s 67% Hike in Carbon Tax

UCP Leader Kenney promises getting rid of the NDP’s job-killing carbon tax will be ‘Job One’

LETHBRIDGE, AB: “Bill 1 for a United Conservative Party government would be the repeal of the Alberta carbon tax,” said UCP leader Jason Kenney today.

“This is a job-killing tax on everything. Right now, it is taking $1.4 billion out of the pockets of ordinary Albertans and from the companies they work for, every year. And if the NDP is allowed to keep it in place, in five years’ time it will be stripping $2.5 billion out of the Alberta economy, every year. That will cost Alberta even more jobs. And it will make us even less able to compete in Canada, and around the world.”

“Under our plan however, getting rid of Alberta’s carbon tax will help create more than 6,000 new jobs by 2024,” Kenney added. “The alternative under a second NDP government would be to see the tax go much higher.”

Both Premier Notley and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips have signalled future price rises as the provincial rate tracks promised future federal increases. (A 2017 Department of Finance memo contemplated increases beyond $50/tonne.)

The NDP have always claimed their tax was “revenue neutral” but only a portion of the carbon tax—$500 million of new $1.4 billion new annual tax—was ever “recycled” back to Albertans. The rest went to new spending in the so-called Climate Leadership Plan, a failed attempt to gain social license. And the NDP revealed in its 2018 budget that they planned increase the rate by 67 percent, and there would be no additional ‘green’ spending, and no increase in the rebates.

So lets’ re-cap:

  • “The NDP told us that it would be ‘revenue neutral.’ But they didn’t cut a penny in other taxes to make up for the carbon tax. In fact, all they did was raise other taxes: on employers, on incomes, and on property.”
  • “They said it would be ‘progressive’ because of generous rebates. But in their 2018 budget, they admitted that as they hike their carbon tax by 67% to $50 a tonne, there will be no increase in the rebates. In other words, even people living in poverty will have to pay more to heat their homes and buy their groceries. That’s regressive, not progressive.”
  • “They said the carbon tax money would go to ‘green’ spending. I guess that’s what they mean by sending bureaucrats into homes to change light bulbs and shower heads. But now they admit that as they increase their carbon tax by 67%, every penny of the extra money will go into the general government slush fund.”

“It’s not the first time they’ve lied about this,” said Kenney. “They didn’t campaign on it either. This tax has no mandate from the taxpayers. Polls show two thirds of Albertans are consistently opposed to it and if the federal government tries to impose it directly, we’ll fight that in court.”

Most chambers and industry groups have included the carbon tax in their list of negative policies. Calgary’s chamber of commerce for example, reported that, “Alberta’s carbon levy is imposing thousands of dollars of costs on Calgary’s small and medium-sized businesses.”

Carbon taxes are applied directly on gasoline and fuels used for home heating. Indirectly, they also make food (and everything carried by truck or railroad) more expensive because the farm, transportation and retail sectors pay the hidden sales tax and pass it along to the consumer at the cash till.

“It even undermines charities,” added Kenney. “The Calgary Food Bankestimates it paid more than $35,000 in extra costs in 2018 due to the carbon tax. That’s an extra job or one’s months’ worth of food for 147 families helped by the food bank. “

“It will also bring relief to struggling Alberta taxpayers. Even without the carbon tax refunds that the NDP has been sending out, under our plan a single mother with two children will save $400 a year.

Also, according to two economists at the University of Calgary. Trevor Tombe and Jennifer Winter, 290,000 middle-income Alberta families, or nearly 70 percent of Alberta families earning between $60,000 and $120,000, will receive tax cuts ranging from $25 and $1,150 from the elimination of the NDP’s carbon tax.
Meanwhile, the average small or medium-sized business would also save $4,500 a year, in carbon taxes now applied to natural gas, gasoline and diesel.

Kenney added that the NDP introduced carbon taxes in violation of the 2002 Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act. (By law, any prospective sales tax has to be voted on, by Albertans.)

“Not only did they not put it to a vote, they didn’t talk about it in their election campaign, either. This is the kind of thief-in-the-night tax that gives all government a bad name. If Albertans had known this was the plan, they would never have agreed to it. That’s one more reason why getting rid of it will be the first thing we do.”

Kenney promised the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act would be amended to specifically include carbon taxes.

Cancelling the Alberta carbon tax will be financed by a $1.1 billion reduction in so-called Climate Leadership operating spending, reduced corporate welfare and other spending in the “pipeline” from the NDP government. (Capital projects will continue to be funded out of normal infrastructure budgets.)

Kenney promised that a UCP government would shine light on what the NDP knew when it first introduced the carbon tax, by proactively releasing reports commissioned by the NDP government at the Alberta Climate Change Office, Alberta Energy, Alberta Treasury Board and Alberta Finance but never made public.

“Carbon taxes are a cash-grab, pure and simple,” said Kenney. “They do virtually nothing for the environment. That’s why Albertans have a right to know what the NDP thought was a reasonable economic cost to impose on them, in order to raise tax-money to spend on their own ideological priorities. And they should know what the NDP thought would be the macroeconomic impact of the carbon tax and their Climate Leadership Plan, as well as what Prime Minister Trudeau’s intended $50/tonne carbon tax. Because whatever it is, they’re paying for it, now.”

“We need to get Albertans back to work, we need to make life easier for them and we need to help them pay their bills. That’s what ending the carbon tax is all about. And it’s job one.”

A comprehensive backgrounder with additional details on today’s announcement can be found here.