United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney responds to the federal carbon tax, which took effect Monday, during a news conference at the Lymburn Esso in west Edmonton, April 1, 2019.
Ed Kaiser Ed Kaiser / Ed Kaiser/Postmedia
Alberta’s carbon tax is dead, but Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is working “as quickly as possible” to impose the federal tax on the province instead.Although the Carbon Tax Repeal Act — the UCP’s first bill — is yet to pass, fuel sellers were expected to stop collecting the tax at 12:01 a.m.Just hours later, the skies of Edmonton darkened with smoke from wildfires in the north of the province.A press conference with Premier Jason Kenney, planned for a gas station in west Edmonton Thursday afternoon, was cancelled when the fire situation worsened.His office said it was so he could receive a briefing on the emergency.McKenna told reporters in Ottawa it was unfortunate to see Kenney’s government nix the tax.“We know we’re feeling the impacts of climate change. In Alberta, you have forest fires this year that have started earlier than before, major concerns about the impacts of these fires this year,” she said.“We’re going to work as quickly as possible to make sure it’s no longer free to pollute.”McKenna said Kenney doesn’t understand the science behind climate change, nor the tools to help fight it.“Unlike Jason Kenney, who says that climate change is like the flavour of the month … it’s actually an existential crisis that we need to address,” she said.“We don’t have a lot of time and that’s why we’re moving forward.”Kenney said last week he has already directed Attorney General Doug Schweitzer to prepare a constitutional challenge through the Alberta Court of Appeal for when the federal government imposes its tax.Removing a ‘dead-weight’The Carbon Tax Repeal Act entered its third reading Thursday morning.Kenney used the opportunity to slam the former government over the carbon tax, accusing it of hurting widows and the poor through the levy.The tax implemented by the NDP saw Albertans pay an extra 6.73 cents per litre for gasoline and $1.51 per gigajoule of natural gas. Around two thirds of people received rebates.Scrapping the tax was a signature policy for the UCP.“Our party has been working since the day of its creation for this moment,” Kenney said in the house Thursday morning.“This is an opportunity to remove this huge dead-weight cost that punishes hard-working people for living ordinary lives in this province.”firstname.lastname@example.org/EmmaLGraney