Calgary

Carbon taxes don't prevent forest fires, says Jason Kenney

As smoke chokes the province, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says carbon taxes don't prevent forest fires and that the province will file a judicial appeal if Ottawa imposes one.

Alberta premier said province will support Saskatchewan's challenge of federal tax

Jason Kenney says Alberta will file its own appeal should the federal government impose a carbon tax on the province and will support Saskatchewan's fight against the tax. (Mike Symington/CBC)

As smoke chokes the province, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says carbon taxes don't prevent forest fires and that the province will file a judicial appeal if Ottawa imposes one.

Kenney made the comments Friday, one day after his government axed the tax brought in by the previous NDP government and the same day Saskatchewan said it's appealing to the Supreme Court to declare the federal levy unconstitutional. 

"We believe we have very strong grounds to do so because we have our own levy on major emitters, so we're going to have, I think, a stronger case than Saskatchewan does in that case."

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal earlier rejected the province's challenge to the federal tax. 

Alberta will try to gain intervenor status in Saskatchewan's hearing, should it proceed to Canada's highest court, Kenney said.

'We've always had forest fires'

Kenney was speaking in Calgary, which was blanketed in thick smoke from forest fires in northern Alberta. Environment Canada listed the air quality index as "very severe." 

"I would also say the carbon tax didn't stop forest fires in British Columbia or in Alberta," said Kenney, speaking to reporters after his talk to the Economic Club of Canada. 

"We've always had forest fires and we always will. It's true that there's dry conditions up north right now. There's complex factors at work."

The premier said forest management has allowed the boreal forest to grow old and that it was "overdue" for a fire in some areas. 

Climate change plan

But Kenney also said he believes climate change is real and requires action. He said the levy on large emitters — a carbon tax on those who pollute the most — and the funding for a technology fund will be the focus in Alberta. 

"Climate emissions are a global challenge," he said. 

"Overwhelmingly the growth in emissions come from the Third World. That's where we need to share technology to reduce emissions and that's exactly what our technology innovation and energy research fund will do."

About the Author

Drew Anderson is a web journalist at CBC Calgary. Like almost every journalist working today, he's won a few awards. He's also a third-generation Calgarian. You can follow him on Twitter @drewpanderson. Contact him in confidence at drew.anderson@cbc.ca.

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