Home Month and Year November 2016 Alberta Government Should Lead by Example on Costly Carbon Tax

Alberta Government Should Lead by Example on Costly Carbon Tax

Paige MacPherson.

If the Alberta government is asking businesses and families to dish out billions of dollars every year for its needless carbon tax, the least government could do is try to lead by example on reducing carbon emissions.

Alberta’s NDP government has said Albertans should change their ways of living and doing business to avoid paying the carbon tax. Even if Albertans trade their trucks in for smart cars and urban tradespeople start lugging their tools via the bus, they’ll still be dinged by increased grocery tabs, property tax bills and education fees due to the carbon tax.

But sure, there’s no doubt driving less reduces gas costs. Given the government’s directive to Albertans, it would be nice if they practiced what they preach.

The government dished out $2.8 million to purchase vehicles for every member of cabinet, 16 bureaucrats, a handful of other senior politicians and even the person who fills in for the woman who fills in for the Speaker of the assembly when he’s not available. Among them: Ford F-150 trucks, Infiniti SUVs, Audis and more. Taxpayers are also paying for the gas and maintenance.

While the government is telling taxpayers to use less gas in more fuel-efficient vehicles, they’re doing the opposite.

The government has said the carbon tax is no big deal for Albertans because there are rebates and exemptions.

The carbon tax will cost an estimated $600 per family of four in 2018, not including some indirect costs. Some people will get rebates. Next year, those making under $51,250 will be eligible for a full or partial carbon tax rebate to cover the direct costs. The rest of Albertans get none.

“The more wealthy you are, the more capacity you have to reduce your emissions,” Premier Notley said.

Suggesting Albertans making $52,000 per year are “wealthy” is flat-out disingenuous. Yes, $52,000 is a good salary, but it certainly doesn’t pad one’s pockets enough to ignore the burden of a heavy new tax.

For small businesses that are forced to cut costs, the government’s small business tax cut was welcome. However, it hardly offsets the costs of the carbon tax and minimum wage hikes, and small businesses will only benefit from that tax cut if they’re turning a profit.

While business owners are expected to cut down on business necessities like shipping supplies and heating facilities to escape the carbon tax, government is travelling the world for photo ops promoting it.

The premier jetted off to New York City in mid-September to promote her carbon tax, costing $39,500. Presumably she and her accompanying six-person entourage didn’t ride their bicycles across the border.

Weeks earlier, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips flew to Mexico with two staffers to promote the carbon tax, costing $12,200. Last year, Canada sent more than 300 people to Paris for the UN climate conference, including 13 delegates from Alberta – all on greenhouse gas-spewing jets.

The hypocrisy is a bit hard to take.

A leak of the government’s own data showed the carbon tax will cost the Alberta economy billions of dollars. The government should be upfront about those costs. And the absolute least the government could do is lead by example.

Paige MacPherson is Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.