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Alberta calls on Ottawa to stop carbon tax increase

Alberta's premier is requesting an audience with Canada's prime minister in an 11th-hour attempt to get him to scrap a planned carbon tax increase on April 1.

Jason Kenney announced Monday he would introduce a bill in the Alberta legislature that afternoon "to clearly demonstrate our opposition to the Trudeau government's April Fool's Day prank of hiking the carbon tax."

The news conference was stocked with such brassy comments from Kenney; he called the carbon tax a "green-left" policy "whose goal it is to make life less affordable for people," and when asked what the motion could achieve that Alberta's previous efforts hadn't, said, "Who knows? There's still a few days left. Maybe Mr. Trudeau will actually come to common sense on this."

The province has so far declined to implement its own carbon tax in lieu of the federal one, which aims to eventually increase the carbon tax to $170/tonne. That was one of its options after the Supreme Court ruled the tax was constitutional in 2021.

"It's communicating, I think certainly to his supporters, they remain firmly opposed," said University of Alberta constitutional lawyer Eric Adams. "Whether it has any prospect of having any real policy impact, I am doubtful."

Asked if a provincial carbon tax was on the table, Kenney said, "We are in negotiations with the federal government trying to get the best deal we can – or the least bad deal – but we are just opposed to carbon taxes in principle."

"At the end of the day, it is money out of people's pockets."

If passed as his government hopes on Tuesday, Kenney said his motion would give Alberta's elected representatives an opportunity to speak "clearly" to the federal government.


Kenney suggested the world is facing an energy "reckoning" spurred by the war in Ukraine and global dependency on oil from dictatorships.

"Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine is a wake-up call for us to become energy realists and that means producing and shipping more responsibly produced Canadian energy to compete with and displace dictator oil around the world," he said.

"Reality is coming clear into focus right now. You cannot take the modern industrial economy, especially in a big cold country like Canada, and run it off of good wishes. You actually need energy. The kind of energy we produce, and the point I made there and we're making today is that we need to be realistic about energy."

The message was broadcast earlier that day in a meme of the physical altercation between actors Will Smith and Chris Rock at 94th Academy Awards ceremony.

The image posted to Kenney's social media accounts suggested "reality" is smacking "green energy policies" in the face.

"It's juvenile and it's unfortunate this is some of the behaviour that we are seeing in the premier’s office," said political scientist Duane Bratt. 


A post shared by Jason Kenney (@jkenney)

Kenney denied the messaging celebrated violence or was inappropriate.

"That image and different memes based on it are basically the entire internet today," he told reporters, reading a definition of the word meme.

"It is a relevant way of making a point – in this case, the point that reality is intruding on the policies of the green left that have sought to make life more expensive for everybody, drive up inflation, food costs, fuel costs, and also reduce development of energy from democracies like Canada, which has led to geopolitical instability from Syria to Venezuela and obviously today Ukraine."

But both Bratt and the Alberta NDP's energy critic suggested the meme was an attempt by Kenney's team to distract attention from his leadership controversy. 

"I absolutely think it's theatrics intended to keep people's minds on other things," Kathleen Ganley said. "This government has plenty of other actions they could have taken." 

Kenney also said he signed a letter with the Saskatchewan and Manitoba premiers calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cancel the April 1 tax bump.

An Alberta economist expects the federal carbon tax hike to raise the price at the pumps by 2.2 cents. Kenney's estimate put the inflated cost at three cents per litre.

Alberta's premier has been steadily calling on Ottawa to ditch its carbon tax increase as fuel prices have shot past record levels. Some pundits also believe his province's plan to stop collecting fuel tax on April 1 – while West Texas Intermediate oil prices remain high – was politically timed.

The NDP says it has suggested Alberta consider temporary credits or rate caps to lessen the sting of the price bump. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Chelan Skulski Top Stories

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