Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she’s not interested in presenting a united front with some other provincial leaders against Ottawa’s carbon pricing plan.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil have been vocal critics of the Liberal government’s intent to charge $10 per tonne of carbon starting in 2018. Notley has said Alberta won’t go along with the plan unless the federal government makes progress on new oil pipelines to Canada’s coasts.
But after a speech to Alberta municipalities Thursday, Notley said she isn’t interested in banding together with Wall and McNeil to battle the plan. Unlike some of her counterparts, Notley said Alberta supports the idea of a national price on carbon in principle.
“We’re always open to engaging in conversations with all of our colleagues across the country. But to suggest that there should be no carbon price in Canada, that’s probably not a starting point that’s helpful for me to utilize.”
Alberta is bringing in its own carbon tax based on the equivalent of $20 per tonne of carbon emissions on Jan. 1. It is scheduled to rise to $30 a tonne in 2018.
The federal plan calls for the price on carbon to rise by $10 per tonne each year until it reaches $50 per tonne in 2022. Trudeau has said carbon pricing will be imposed on provinces that don’t match the tax either through direct pricing or through a cap-and-trade mechanism.
McNeil has said Nova Scotia definitely won’t impose a tax and he isn’t sure cap and trade is the right way to go either. He said the province has already met the national target of a 30 per cent reduction in emissions from 2005 by 2030.
Wall, who has never supported carbon pricing, has called Trudeau’s plan disrespectful and a betrayal. He has argued Saskatchewan will be one of the hardest hit by what he calls “one of the largest national tax increases in Canadian history.”
“We are probably farther along the path to agreeing to the principle that a common pricing on carbon across the country is of value,” said Notley, who has clashed with Wall on a number of issues in the past. “At this point, we are talking with the federal government.”
Notley said she hasn’t talked to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau since he announced his plan Monday, but Alberta’s stance shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
She hasn’t outlined what Alberta would do if there is no significant progress on pipeline development, except to say Ottawa will find it difficult to implement a national carbon price without provincial co-operation.
“It is a complex and complicated policy initiative. You can’t simply snap your fingers and have it happen with a completely predictable outcome,” Notley said.
“The federal government simply announcing a new price without working with each of the provinces … is going to run into trouble. They can either work collaboratively with the provinces to get through that, or they cannot.”