Alberta NDP leadership hopeful condemns federal carbon tax

NDP MLA Sarah Hoffman, 43, had choice words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his consumer carbon tax. 'I think the consumer carbon tax is dead. It died provincially in the last election,' she said.

Alberta NDP leadership hopeful condemns federal carbon tax
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Rachel Notley’s second-in-command has pledged to walk back support for the federal carbon tax if elected party leader in June.

Sarah Hoffman, 43, formerly the deputy premier from 2015–2019, had choice words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his consumer carbon tax.

"I think the consumer carbon tax is dead. It died provincially in the last election," she told The Canadian Press

Hoffman accused Trudeau of playing "dirty politics" and said his antics killed support for the policy. "If you don't have public support, you can't carry on with something like that," she added.

The senior ranking NDP MLA says in spite of her opposition to the carbon tax, 'climate change' remains a centerpiece for her leadership campaign.

"I do know Albertans do care about the climate. We have to act. But a consumer carbon tax is not the model that has momentum right now or has support. So, we need to find new tools that are successful," she said.

In Alberta, Hoffman and the Notley-led NDP previously imposed a carbon tax in the province in 2017 before it was repealed in 2019 .

Though light on details, she purposefully leaked a policy tidbit which includes large polluters paying more. They can likely afford it, she said.

Changing course may come as quite the shock for some voters, according to Hoffman, but the method to her madness comes from a genuine desire to bring everyone on board to fight 'climate change.'

"Nobody is on board with what Justin Trudeau did with the federal carbon tax. He absolutely broke trust and broke confidence when he looked at the polls in Eastern Canada and decided to exempt them," she said. 

She contends the NDP may have defeated the United Conservatives last May had they engaged with voters on 'climate change.'

For months, Alberta and Saskatchewan have lambasted Ottawa for giving only Atlantic Canadians a carbon tax exemption on home heating oil. Western provinces, who predominantly use natural gas to keep their homes warm, were among the notable exclusions.

"There's no way people can be on board with the federal plan when even the prime minister isn't on board, when he's playing games with it," said Hoffman. 

Rakhi Pancholi, another NDP leadership hopeful, acknowledged some of her party’s policy positions need to be reassessed. 

"There is an opportunity to … reflect where Albertans are at, according to Pancholi. “One idea … is a move away from the consumer carbon tax," she said. 

"We know that general public opinion on that has not changed in seven years, and Albertans in particular have not bought into the idea that it is a revenue neutral proposition," added the two-term Edmonton MLA.

A federal briefing note by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) confirms the carbon tax is not revenue neutral, for exempting it from GST charge would reduce federal tax revenues by $486 million this year. Albertans are set to pay Ottawa $96 million this year for their tax-on-tax.

The carbon tax costs the average family upwards of $710 a year after rebates, according to a separate PBO report

Pancholi said she'd like to discuss the future of renewable energy with Albertans, economists and oil and gas experts instead.

"I believe it's time to not be entrenched in ideas that we used to have but look at new ideas and think about ways to develop a strong climate action plan that may move away from a consumer carbon tax," she said.

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