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Results: 1 - 15 of 118
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 15:38
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I've been on both sides of the table, and at this end too, so it's wonderful to be back.
Mr. Chairman, I am leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta. We just had our founding annual general meeting, which wrapped up yesterday. Since 98% of our members voted in favour of a policy to repeal the carbon tax imposed by the incumbent NDP government in Alberta, I am here in opposition to part 5 of Bill C-74 and its proposed federal carbon tax.
The NDP government in Alberta imposed its carbon tax five months after the last election. Hilariously, they forgot to mention their carbon tax in that election. It was the largest hidden agenda in our province's political history, and the largest tax increase in our history. They raised it by 50% on January 1 of this year. They are now committed to raising it by a further 67%, and they're blaming Bill C-74, the federal carbon tax.
I can report that there have been over a dozen public opinion polls taken on the carbon tax in Alberta in the past two years, showing consistently that two-thirds of Albertans oppose this tax. They oppose it not because they are indifferent to the environmental questions or the challenges of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, but because they understand, with their good common sense, that punishing consumers for living normal lives in a cold northern climate and an advanced economy is not a responsible environmental policy. They understand that making it more expensive for seniors to heat their homes when it's 30 below outside, as it was just a couple of weeks ago in Alberta, or making people pay more in order to drive to work, is punishing people for simply living their lives and doesn't make sense.
The theorists who support carbon tax will generally admit that it is a so-called Pigouvian tax, by which they mean there should be a taxation on negative behaviours, like sin taxes on booze and cigarettes.
Most Albertans don't think that heating their homes and driving to work and running their small businesses are something that should be punished.
I recently visited the Sundre Seniors Centre. It's a wonderful organization that keeps seniors active in their community. They do that for only $18,000 a year. It's a completely volunteer organization. They're now spending 7% of their annual budget on a carbon tax they can't afford, which is about to go up by another 67%. They don't get a rebate and they don't get any prospective offsetting tax cut, so they're looking at possibly having to close down their seniors centre.
There are real human impacts that the advocates don't talk about. That is why I am pleased to report to you that if Albertans elect a United Conservative government in next year's provincial election, the first bill that we will introduce in the legislature will be the carbon tax repeal act. We will completely repeal the NDP carbon tax.
If the federal government then seeks to impose the powers proposed in this bill on Albertans through a federal carbon tax, we will see the federal government in court. Our official opposition is making an application to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to seek intervenor status to join the Saskatchewan government's constitutional challenge of Bill C-74. Should we be in office, we will ensure that Alberta does everything it can to get Alberta before the courts on the same issue.
We believe this is an unconstitutional intrusion into the exclusive provincial power to tax for provincial purposes. It's also an unequal application of a federal power on different provinces, which are being treated differently.
I close by pointing out that the advocates of carbon taxes know that the $50 tax is just the beginning. Environment Canada has said that in order to hit the Paris targets, it has to go to $300 a tonne. This is the “frog in the pot” syndrome. All of the carbon tax advocates here are simply trying to get people used to paying more to heat their homes and to drive to work, so that they can continually raise this to give more revenue to politicians and more control to government. A future Conservative government in Alberta will do everything it can to fight that.
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:05
An extreme excess of any natural element can be injurious to human health. I stand by that plainly scientific statement.
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:05
I reject the premise of the torqued question, Mr. Chair. I would ask in response if the member and her government feel this strongly, why don't they have the courage of their convictions and just admit to Canadians that what they really want is a carbon tax of at least $300 a tonne? Why don't they admit that this is just a frog in the pot? They are trying to get people used to the idea of punishing folks for simply driving to work and living normal lives.
I can tell the member my job is to represent the majority of Albertans, two-thirds of whom oppose carbon taxes and don't believe giving politicians more money is a solution to environmental challenges.
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:07
There are several questions there. I am standing in defence of farmers, for example, who are facing massive increases in the cost of doing their business as a result of this bill of this proposed Liberal carbon tax. There are 49,000 farms in Alberta, and the current carbon tax in Alberta at $30 a tonne will cost upwards of $182 million a year. The federal department of agriculture says that the national carbon tax will cost farmers $3,705 on average when implemented at $50 a tonne.
Perhaps Liberals think costing farmers an extra $4,000 a year is helping them. I happen to think it's hurting them.
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:08
The estimate of this bill costing Canadian farmers $3,700 a year is not my belief. It is the estimate of the department of agriculture of the federal Liberal government in the memo that they published on January 17, 2017. I'm only making reference to this government's estimate, and in terms of other costs to consumers—
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:09
Could I just finish one sentence?
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:09
I'm trying to be brief, Mr. Chair. If the member is concerned about a lack of estimates then perhaps she could ask her own government to be forthcoming with Canadians and to stop hiding the real cost of the carbon tax. I understand the official opposition here has made several motions asking the government to release all relevant documents and estimates about the cost impact on Canadians of the carbon tax, and it's up to the government to be transparent about that, not the opposition in Alberta.
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:10
Firstly, to correct the record, Mr. Chair, the previous federal government did have the best growth record in the G7 following the 2008 crisis.
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:10
Secondly, Mr. Chair, with respect to an alternative plan on the environment in Alberta, we'll be releasing a comprehensive plan in our platform for the next year's election. It might very well include a return to the specified gas metre regulations, which imposes a cost on major emitters to support research and development, science and technology. I believe the solution will be found in thousands of technological advances as opposed to punishing—
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:11
—consumers for simply living ordinary lives. Mr. Chair, I find this line of questioning peculiar. The member doesn't seem to acknowledge that there is no expert advice that a $50 carbon tax gets anywhere close to achieving the Paris climate conference targets.
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:11
I have one last sentence. According to Environment Canada, the carbon tax would need to be $300 a tonne by 2050 to achieve the same target. I gather that's the member's position. I hope she'll run on that in the next election.
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:13
Yes, absolutely. I think that is the emerging consensus globally. This is why the Liberal government in Australia repealed the carbon tax. I would point out the Australian Labor Party, which initially introduced that, has also given up on the carbon tax because they realize it's all economic pain and no environmental gain. The voters in the greenest state in the U.S., Washington, reflected that in a recent referendum, as did the last French socialist government in deciding not to proceed with increases in a national carbon tax. I can only speak for what polls suggested the vast majority of Albertans believe, that punishing people for simply consuming energy in a cold northern climate is not an effective climate or environmental strategy. Their emphasis right now, with 156,000 unemployed people, is to get our economy moving again, partly by reducing the tax burden rather than increasing it.
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:18
Yes, absolutely. If people who are the most vulnerable...and, of course, the proponents of carbon taxes say that is offset by rebates. One of the problems with carbon taxes, unlike other forms of consumption tax, is that the costs of them cascade down through the economy and hit average people the hardest.
What has effectively happened in Alberta is that they've taken, in part, a tax that was on the major oil companies that produce emissions and now impose it on ordinary people through the carbon tax.
Mr. Beugin actually said that was a feature. I think it's a bug. He pointed out that global multinational oil companies like the NDP carbon tax because they don't have to pay for their own emissions. The consumer does. It gets pushed down through the economy.
I was surprised to see parties of the left now supporting a regressive form of taxation, which imposes a disproportionately large burden on lower-income people.
Jason Kenney
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Hon. Jason Kenney
2018-05-07 16:20
I would invite Professor Leach to join me. I'll take him out on the road for a day or so, and we can visit some charities and non-profits that are barely hanging together, and on which this is imposing massive additional costs.
Perhaps he'd like to be part of the fundraiser that the Sundre Seniors Centre now has to hold, so that low-income seniors can pay the growing carbon tax bill for which they get no offset or credit. There are huge gaps in how this addresses the cost burden on low-income people.
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