Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is berating Conservative MPs for sending information to constituents on how to file income taxes without mentioning the carbon tax rebates to which they may be entitled.
“Canadians deserve a lot better from politicians,” McKenna said in an interview with CTV’s Power Play. “They deserve to know the facts.”
Earlier this week, she sent a letter to Conservative MPs from Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan -- provinces that have opposed the government’s so-called “tax on pollution” -- to relay her concerns about their sending information to Canadians without mentioning the rebates.
The government says that 90 per cent of all funds collected from the carbon tax will be given back to citizens of the provinces that repeal the tax in the form of a rebate.
McKenna added that Alberta premier-designate Jason Kenney, whose United Conservative Party toppled Rachel Notley’s NDP government in Tuesday’s provincial election, fails to understand that climate change is “as much an economic issue as an environmental issue.”
She noted that Alberta has seen insurance costs balloon after severe weather events – forest fires, droughts and floods – that may have been caused by climate change, so voters there understand better than most the costs of inaction.
Kenney roared to victory by tapping into a widespread sense of grievance and anxiety that has festered since global oil prices crashed in 2014, plunging the oil-rich province into a recession from which recovery has been slow.
He joins the premiers of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick in opposing the federal government’s carbon tax and has promised to repeal it once he is sworn in.
“We don’t believe that punishing people for heating their homes during a cold winter or driving to work or buying their groceries is an environmental policy,” Kenney said in an interview with CTV’s Power Play.
He added that his government will be imposing a levy on major industrial emitters of greenhouse gases that will have a built-in “incentive for shrinking carbon intensity.”
Kenney’s election is almost certain to make Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s environmental policies an election issue. He has also taken issue with Bill C-69, the government’s pending legislation that overhauls the review process for major resource projects.
Kenney said he is prepared to use all of the “political and legal tools” at his disposal to counter obstacles to pipeline construction and to “assert Alberta’s vital economic interests.”
He said that his campaign pledges to shut off the oil taps to neighbouring anti-pipeline British Columbia and to hold a referendum in 2021 on removing equalization from the Constitution if there’s no progress on pipelines were not empty threats.
“In Canada, the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Kenney said. “That’s what Quebec has shown us for 40 years. It’s about time we were prepared to assert ourselves with similar strength.”
Kenney’s comments came on the same day that the federal government announced that it is delaying its decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project until June 18 – nearly a month after its original deadline – in order to complete consultations with Indigenous groups.
The federal government bought the pipeline, which would carry refined bitumen from Alberta to the B.C. coast and then to overseas markets, for $4.5 billion last year. But construction has been stalled since a federal appeals court judge said that the government failed to adequately consult with Indigenous groups and to conduct a proper environmental review.
“It’s frustrating to see all of the endless delays,” Kenney said, adding in a more conciliatory tone that he understands that the federal government has to satisfy requirements from the federal courts.
“Quite frankly, this project should have been shovels in the ground well over a year ago,” he said.