Michelle Rempel says $50 per tonne carbon price will hurt Canadians but won't change their behaviour

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel says a federally mandated price on carbon of $50 per tonne by 2022 is "materially going impact people's lives" but at the same time she doubts it will be enough to actually change their behaviour.

Conservative Calgary MP questions effectiveness of Liberal plan, motivation of oil companies' support for it

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, shown here asking a question in the House of Commons in June, is questioning the efficacy of the federal government's carbon-pricing plan and the motivation of big oil companies' support for it. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel says a federally mandated price on carbon of $50 per tonne by 2022 is "materially going impact people's lives" but at the same time she doubts it will be enough to actually change their behaviour.

"My main issue with this is I don't think it's going to work," Rempel told The Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday morning.

"At that price, demand for carbon products is likely not to change and, because of that, we're likely not going to meet the new targets that the government has selected."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this week that provinces must begin pricing carbon dioxide emissions in a manner of their choosing — through means such as a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax — with an effective, minimum price of $10 a tonne in 2018, rising by $10 each year to $50 a tonne in 2022.

Rempel joined The Eyeopener after publicly questioning big oil companies' support for a broad carbon-pricing policy.

Major oil and gas producers like Cenovus, Suncor and Shell Canada, as well as pipeline companies like Enbridge and TransCanada have been publicly advocating for carbon pricing for years but, in a tweet this week, Rempel suggested they might be more motivated by self-interest than concern about climate change.

She clarified Thursday that she hasn't heard specifically from small and medium oil producers that a national carbon price would hurt their competitiveness but she hasn't exactly heard them offer a ringing endorsement of the idea, either.

"I do think that, from the modelling that I've seen, that this is going to disproportionately affect junior oil and gas companies," she said.

"If the larger CEOs want to show that this is a level playing field, that this is not going to materially impact different sized players in the energy sector in different ways, I would be happy to look at that."

Carbon price not a 'panacea'

Rempel said the federal government's plan is not a "panacea" for climate change and challenged oil and gas executives who believe in the policy to bring forward evidence to support it.

"If the talking point from these big companies is we want to effect change, we actually want to do our part to address the very serious concern of climate change, then show the Canadian public that this is going to work," she said.

"If this is not going to work, then why are we imposing a tax on people? This is materially going to impact people's lives, because we all use carbon products."

Focusing too much on carbon pricing could end up being counterproductive to mitigating climate change, Rempel added.

"I actually worry that it's going to stifle a more innovative approach, perhaps a more multi-faceted approach that would allow us to take action on this issue," she said.

"I'd hate to be sitting here 10 years from now, after we, as a country, have adopted this and this alone as the way that we address the issue of climate change and then see our greenhouse gas emissions actually go up."

With files from The Calgary Eyeopener


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?