'The worst tax ever': Doug Ford and Jason Kenney hold campaign-style rally against carbon levy

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney joined forces Friday for a raucous, campaign-style rally against the provincial carbon tax, where each aimed most of their comments at Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

More than 1,500 packed into BMO Centre at the Calgary Stampede grounds

UCP Leader Jason Kenney and Ontario Premier Doug Ford took aim against Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during an anti-carbon tax rally. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press, Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Jason Kenney, leader of Alberta's United Conservative Party, joined forces Friday for a raucous, campaign-style rally against the provincial carbon tax, where each aimed most of their comments at Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Kenney opened the event by saying he wants to send a clear message to Notley and Trudeau, who he called "her close friend and ally."

"Scrap your carbon tax," he said to a chorus of cheers.

More than 1,500 packed into the BMO Centre on the Calgary Stampede grounds for the standing-room only event.

Should the UCP form the government in the next provincial election — currently slated for May 2019 — Kenney said he will then convene a summer session of the legislature to repeal the carbon tax.

"Think of the impact of the carbon tax. This is a tax on consuming a staple," he said.

"They think this is some kind of sin tax… basically it's the same idea as a tax on cigarettes, or a tax on booze. They want to discourage us from doing something that politicians don't approve of, like heating our homes, and filling up our gas tanks to drive to work.

"This is not a vice, it's not something that should be punished, and by the way, it doesn't work, because you can only turn down the heat so much when it's 30 below outside."

Ford called the carbon levy, "the worst tax ever," and said it will "drive up the price of heating your home."

"I'm speaking now to all the women and men who might be worried about keeping their job, or worried about finding a job," he said. "I'm speaking to all the people who are worried about paying rent or worried about paying bills. I'm talking to all the people who are worried about having to pay a massive new carbon tax… I have a message for all these people and all the people of Alberta — stay strong, your next election is one conservatives can win, an election we will win and an election we must win."

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci said Thursday those opposing the carbon tax don't understand that to reduce emissions, you need to price them.

"They're not free, and we have a clear plan in place, a carbon levy is raising money, we're diversifying in this province," Ceci said.

Education Minister David Eggen told reporters prior to the rally on Friday that Albertans should be "disturbed" by Ford's visit to the province when it comes to educational issues. 

"I think Albertans should be disturbed about Doug Ford coming to Alberta and trying to tell us what we should do in our province," he said.

"In the three months that Doug Ford has been the premier of Ontario, he has unleashed mayhem into the education system: attacking teachers, taking $100 million out of maintenance, attacking curriculum. And I just want to remind people and warn people that Jason Kenney looks enviously at Doug Ford and actively says he wants to emulate the Doug Ford model here in our province." 

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan also released a statement ahead of Friday's event, saying "Albertans don't need the Ontario premier coming here to tell us how to run our province."

"We have our hands full with an NDP government that has stumbled from crisis to crisis and is on track to run up the Alberta debt to $100 billion since taking power in 2015," it read.

"If UCP Leader Jason Kenney, also recently returned from many years in Ontario, needs help on how to operate here, then Alberta Liberals will be glad to give him a hand – no charge."

A health-care advocacy group also condemned the visit, asking Albertans to take a hard look at Ford's policies if they are considering voting for Kenney.

Sandra Azocar of Friends of Medicare says if these two leaders are friendly, it could be an indicator Kenney will adopt some of Ford's health-care cuts.

"He cut $350 million from the promised mental health funding he did," she said. "He also rolled back on the public drug insurance children were being covered under that had been introduced not too long ago. He also cut back on hospital beds that had been opened prior to the election."

A statement from the UCP's deputy chief of staff says the party is not surprised by what it calls "these desperate attacks from NDP-aligned front groups."

It says Kenney has said front-line health services must be maintained. And that the party has raised concerns about the NDP's mismanagement of the health-care system.

The rally with Kenney was Ford's second meeting this week with anti-carbon tax allies in Prairie provinces. Ford was in Saskatoon Thursday for a meeting with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.

Saskatchewan launched a reference case with the province's Court of Appeal in April, questioning the federal government's jurisdiction to enforce a carbon tax on provinces that don't comply with its climate change plan.

With files from Michelle Bellefontaine