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The Strategists: How Alberta's NDP can navigate new carbon tax report

A new report says Alberta's carbon tax regime could be the most stringent in Canada, but for an NDP government in an oil rich province, that can be a tricky message to navigate.

Canada's Ecofiscal Commission expects Alberta's carbon tax regime to be most stringent in Canada by 2020

A new report says Canada's oilpatch is on track to have the country's most aggressive carbon pricing system by 2020. 6:08

A new report says Alberta's carbon tax regime could become the most stringent in Canada, but for an NDP government in an oil rich province, public messaging around that finding can be tricky to navigate. 

While the government prides itself on being a leader on climate action, being too far out in front could carry a political cost.

Political opponents including Jason Kenney have jumped on the opportunity to criticize the government.

"Albertans will have to pay highest carbon taxes in Canada, thanks to a tax NDP didn't even mention in its platform," tweeted Kenney Wednesday. 

But political strategist Zain Velji said this report advances the government's agenda because it "creates relevancy" for the Alberta's oil industry, both with an international audience and with Justin Trudeau's government. 

"This government wants to be known for one thing, which is having market access before the next election," said Velji.

Corey Hogan, however, said Alberta's carbon tax is only marginally more aggressive than those implemented in other provinces. 

"It's not like we're in totally different ballparks. We're talking about who's a buck apart," he said.

"The fact of the matter is, we're laggards. It's kind of embarrassing that we're just now getting into the conversation."

Stephen Carter said he would advise the minister to remind Albertans that a federal carbon tax is coming, and that this is a proactive plan that leaves Albertans well-positioned for that change. 

"We're going to be protected from what the feds do, because we put in place a stringent carbon tax that makes sense for Albertans," Carter said.

With files from CBC Calgary News at 6