Alberta's United Conservative Party has kicked off the new year with a double-pronged attack on the carbon tax.
Using the voice of former Calgary radio talk show host Dave Rutherford, a series of radio ads launched this week advise listeners to "get ready to pay more taxes" as a result of the carbon tax "that raises taxes on just about everything."
And in a fundraising letter sent this week, UCP leader Jason Kenney wrote the NDP government is incapable of defending its own actions when it comes to introducing the carbon tax as part of a climate change plan.
"Even their own economist," writes Kenney, "said that it would have no environmental impact, and that it would just move jobs and opportunity to other jurisdictions that lack a carbon tax."
The letter also asks supporters to sign a petition against the tax, and to contribute to the cost of running the ads.
In response, Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips issued a tersely worded statement.
"Jason Kenney has not been telling the truth about the carbon levy from day one. He said it would destroy jobs – Alberta created more jobs last month than any other province in the country," said Phillips in an email.
Kenney made the commitment to scrap the carbon tax a centrepiece of his by election campaign in the Calgary-Lougheed byelection that he won in December.
During a year-end interview with CBC news in December, Kenney said the byelection was an opportunity for voters to "send a message to the government" about the carbon tax.
Kenney maintains he will repeal the tax if his party forms a government regardless of what conditions the federal government imposes.
"If the federal government were to try and impose a federal tax," said Kenney, "I've been clear that we would challenge that in court. It's quite possible Saskatchewan will have an active constitutional challenge, that we would seek to join in the court."
Saskatchewan introduced its climate change plan in December, which doesn't include a carbon tax. Spokesperson for outgoing Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, Kathy Young, said in an email Jan. 9 that plan strikes the "right balance without hurting our economy or the Saskatchewan people."
"We will not be imposing the federal carbon tax in Saskatchewan," wrote Young, " and are more than willing to fight this battle in court."
But the federal government is moving ahead with its plan to impose a price on carbon across the country in provinces and territories that haven't already come up with their own system.
Carbon pricing legislation will be introduced sometime in 2018, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said last month.
An email statement from McKenna's press secretary, Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers, said the federal government will be "assessing each province and territory every year on whether their approach to pricing carbon pollution meets the standard we've set."
"If it doesnt," the statement continues, "the federal approach will apply in that jurisdiction," wrote Des Rosiers.
McKenna said that provinces will have until the end of 2018 to submit their own carbon pricing plans before a national price is imposed on those that don't meet the federal standard.
McKenna said in 2016 that provinces will have to impose at least a $10-per-tonne carbon price by 2018, rising to $50 a tonne by 2022. Any province that doesn't would have a federal price imposed on it.
During a year-end interview with CBC News, Premier Rachel Notley defended her government's climate leadership plan and the carbon tax as 'world leading."
Notley: 'Most people understand'
Notley said as part the 2015 election campaign her party ran "on the fact we need to take climate change seriously." But Notley acknowledged a carbon tax was not mentioned at that time, something opposition critics have focused on.
"We just talked about climate change, and most people understand that pricing carbon is a fundamental part of addressing climate change," said Notley.
At the beginning of 2017, the NDP government implemented a $20-per-tonne tax on carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels used for transportation and heating. On Jan. 1, this year that tax rose to $30 a tonne.
Alberta's carbon tax increased by 50 percent in the new year, adding 2.24 cents a litre on gasoline and an additional 2.68 cents a litre on diesel fuel.
On natural gas, the most common home heating fuel in Alberta, the tax increased by about 50 cents per gigajoule (GJ). On propane it rose from 3.08 cents per litre to 4.62.
To counter the impact of the added tax, the Alberta government has been sending out rebates to families and individuals.