Pursuing a carbon tax now that Donald Trump has become president-elect is "complete insanity," says interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose.
"It's complete insanity that we would kneecap our own economy, and put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage with a carbon tax across this country, when we know that the Americans would never do that, and have no plans to do that," she told reporters in Alberta today.
Ambrose said the United States may be Canada's biggest trading partner, but it is also our biggest competitor, and saddling business north of the border with a carbon tax that U.S. companies will not face could cripple Canada's economy.
"Why would we put our own families, and our own companies and our own workers at a competitive disadvantage — a carbon tax makes no sense anymore," she said.
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But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared unwilling to budge from his plan to put a price on carbon Thursday, saying "you cannot separate a strong economy from a sustainable environment."
"I think one of the things that people in Canada, and indeed around the world, understand is that there is tremendous economic disadvantage from not acting in the fight against climate change," Trudeau said, "for not pushing towards cleaner jobs and reducing emissions, towards not showing leadership at a time when the world is looking for leadership."
Trump has said he would cancel U.S. participation in the Paris climate agreement, and his transition website states his administration will scrap Obama's climate plan, which had committed the U.S. to a broadening of international partnerships such as the Paris deal, to combat climate change.
The Trump transition website does not even have a policy section for the environment, instead addressing the policy area under the heading "energy independence." The central pledge is to turn the U.S. into a net energy exporter by fully exploiting its coal, oil and natural gas deposits.
Canada vs. America on climate
Trump's energy plan makes a series of pledges that will put Canada and the U.S. on separate tracks when it comes to the environment, including:
- Opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters for resource development.
- Streamlining the permit process for energy projects.
- Ending the "war on coal" and rescinding the coal mining lease moratorium.
- Conducting a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by Obama's government.
- Refocusing the Environmental Protection Agency on clean air and clean, safe drinking water.
Focus on pipelines, Ambrose says
With those initiatives in mind, Ambrose said Trudeau should stop offering to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement and instead focus on trying to get more pipelines built.
"While he's talking about reopening NAFTA, which could actually kill good jobs in this country, instead he should be picking up the phone and talking to Mr. Trump and getting the Keystone XL pipeline built as fast as possible, or approved," Ambrose said. "Here's an opportunity and he's said nothing about it."
Trudeau told reporters he was willing to reopen NAFTA because it was important to make sure that globalization, and the trade deals that come with it, are benefiting workers and the economy.
"I think it's important that we be open to talking about trade deals like NAFTA or any other trade deal," Trudeau said. "And as our ambassador said, if the Americans want to talk about NAFTA, I'm more than happy to talk about it."