Alberta Minute: Consultations, Free Trade, and Carbon Taxes

Alberta Minute – Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.

Alberta Legislature by IQRemix on Flickr

This Week In Alberta:

  • With Stampede over, most politicians will be taking a break or working locally in their constituency, but the machinery of government will continue to operate over summer, with a number of consultations already underway, and a couple more getting started this week.
  • The biggest consultation is for the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system, which is the UCP’s proposed carbon tax on heavy emitters. During the campaign, the UCP promised TIER would be $20 a tonne, but now they have refused to commit to this price. Some have speculated this is because they want to go lower than $20 but we suspect they’re considering leaving it at the NDP’s $30 a tonne price, or potentially even raising it, in exchange for the TIER program being accepted as sufficient to meet the Federal Government’s carbon tax requirement.
  • Another big consultation is happening on the government’s proposed Farm Freedom and Safety Act which is designed to replace the NDP’s controversial Bill 6 legislation. Consultations on this proposal are open until the end of August.

 

Last Week In Alberta:

  • Jason Kenney hosted a pre-meeting with Doug Ford (ON), Scott Moe (SK), Blaine Higgs (NB), and Bob McLeod (NT) prior to the Council of the Federation in Saskatchewan. Kenney appears to be attempting to gather allies not just for political purposes but also to help push reforms to various interprovincial policies like free trade.
  • Speaking of which, the Alberta government made a massive announcement that they will unilaterally abolish many of Alberta’s interprovincial trade barriers and review the remainder. Trade barriers harm both the place they are imposed on *and* the place imposing them which is why they’re such bad policy and why it makes sense to abolish your own trade barriers even if other governments refuse to abolish theirs. Unilateral action can also act as a circuit breaker and put pressure on others to act – let’s hope that’s the case here.
  • Finally, Quebec has announced they will join in on provincial court action against the Federal Carbon Tax. It was an unexpected, but perhaps not too surprising if you think about it, announcement. Quebec is happy having a provincial carbon tax, but from a Constitutional perspective, they really don’t want to be told what to do by the federal government. The whole point of having provincial governments, rather than one giant government for the whole country is so that provinces can try out different ideas and implement policies that suit their own local situation – a federally mandated minimum taxes of any kind goes against that entire principle.