Pipelines, carbon tax, and equalization payments are the issues of Alberta’s provincial election

On Tuesday, Alberta’s provincial election was called for April 16. With a wide lead over the governing New Democrats, leader of the opposition United Conservatives Jason Kenney made clear that without pipelines providing access for the province’s petroleum products to reach new market, he will hold a vote on equalization payments. He also vowed to sue the federal government if the contentious Bill C-69 becomes law and Alberta will block energy shipments to any province that block pipelines.

Mr. Kenney says Albertans can no longer tolerate the federal and other provincial governments benefiting from Alberta resources while doing everything they can to block development. Even in the face of an ongoing economic recession, Alberta continues to be a “have” province. If he becomes Premier, the federal equalization program, which is meant to balance fiscal disparities between so called “have” and “have-not” provinces, Mr. Kenney will be put to a referendum vote on October 18, 2021, the same day as the next municipal elections.

He said Albertans pride themselves of being able to share their wealth, but “What we can no longer tolerate is governments and politicians in other parts of the country benefiting from Albertans’ hard work and our resources while doing everything they can to block those resources.” Further, Mr. Kenney added, the policies of Alberta’s NDP government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are achieving the same results as the old National Energy Program, which former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced in 1980 and nearly destroyed Alberta’s energy industry and economy.

Currently, Albertans pay 19.74 percent in carbon tax on each litre of gasoline at the pumps (13 percent federal, 6.73 percent provincially, which Premier Notley has vowed to double) alongside the 5 percent in GST, bringing a total of 24.73 percent in taxes per litre. On natural gas, the carbon tax is CAD $1.517/GJ. If elected Premier, Mr. Kenney said his first order of business will be to scrap the NDP’s carbon tax, reiterating the fact that the governing party misled voters by making no mention of it in its 2015 platform.

Mr. Kenney accused Premier Notley of selling Alberta out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by imposing a carbon tax without securing an agreement for coastal pipelines in exchange. He said he would sue Ottawa if its overhaul to environmental reviews becomes law, block energy shipments to provinces that stand in the way of development, and team up with other oil and gas-friendly provincial governments. Additionally, Mr. Kenney said the UCP would present a “common sense” plan to control carbon emissions later in the election campaign.