Edmonton

'Complete insanity' to pursue carbon tax now that Trump will be president, says Ambrose

Rather than reopen the NAFTA free-trade agreement, the Trudeau government should rethink its own proposed carbon tax now that president-elect Donald Trump is set to take over power in the United States, says interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose.

'The carbon tax is not going to buy Mr. Trump’s approval of the Key XL pipeline, is it?'

A change of administration south the border means there is no longer any reason for Canada to implement a carbon tax, says interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose. (CBC)

Rather than reopen the NAFTA free-trade agreement, the Trudeau government should rethink its own proposed carbon tax now that president-elect Donald Trump is set to take over power in the United States, says interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose.

In Edmonton on Thursday to talk about her party's Alberta Jobs Taskforce, Ambrose called the federal government's plans for a national carbon tax "insanity" and said a change of administration south the border means there is no longer any reason to pursue such policies.

Supporters of the carbon tax have insisted that such measures will help convince Americans to buy more oil from Canada if the country is seen to be doing its part to combat climate change.
Speaking Thursday in Edmonton, interim leader of the conservative party Rona Ambrose said the U.S. would never implement a carbon tax. 0:56

But Ambrose said Tuesday's election victory by Trump, who has repeatedly called climate change a "hoax," has utterly changed that dynamic.

"The carbon tax is not going to buy Mr. Trump's approval of the Key XL pipeline, is it?" Ambrose said. "He already supports Keystone."

The long-planned but yet-to-be-approved pipeline would, if built, carry Alberta oil to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

'A carbon tax makes no sense anymore'

The NDP government in Alberta has announced plans for introducing a carbon tax. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should abandon plans for carbon taxes across the country, Ambrose said, given that the Republicans will soon control both houses of Congress and the White House.

"A carbon tax makes no sense anymore," she said. "It's complete insanity. That we would knee-cap 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. To put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage makes absolutely no sense whatsoever."

Trump's election win proved that millions of Americans do not support the liberal policies put forward by the Democratic Party and its nominee, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Ambrose said.

"The U.S. election was a big rejection of those kinds of big government policies that are not actually helping lift working people," she said. "It's a message for left-of-centre politicians who focus on large policies that are out of touch with regular working people.

"We saw that in the U.S. election, we saw that in Brexit. And it's a message for Mr. Trudeau, who is more interested in impressing bureaucrats at the United Nations with his big policies that really are hurting working people. And the more out of touch you are with regular working people, I think, the more you'll be rejected."

The comments came hours after Trudeau told reporters in Nova Scotia he would be willing to talk about renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump characterized during the election campaign as the worst trade deal in the history of the world.

Trudeau said he spoke to Trump briefly on the telephone and invited him to visit Canada.

'Reopening NAFTA could actually kill jobs'

Asked about the trade deal, Trudeau said: "If Americans want to talk about NAFTA, I'm happy to talk about it."

For her part, Ambrose called NAFTA the "largest, most successful trade agreement in the history of the world." She said it has created billions of dollars of benefits for the Canadian economy since it was enacted in 1994.

"Reopening NAFTA could actually kill jobs," Ambrose said. "Why is he (Trudeau) talking about that? Instead, he should be picking up the phone and talking to Mr. Trump about getting the Keystone XL pipeline built as fast as possible.

"We know Mr. Trump supports Keystone. Mr. Trudeau has said he supports it. Well, then get on the phone and ask to have this pushed through as fast as possible."

Ambrose and fellow Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs held a news conference in Edmonton Thursday outside the constituency office of Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi to restate their criticisms of the federal government's plan to close down an Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship case processing centre in Vegreville, Alta., to be relocated to Edmonton in 2018.

The centre is the largest employer in the town of fewer than 6,000 residents, and the closure will cost 280 jobs, the Conservatives and the town's mayor say.

Stubbs, who has repeatedly raised the issue in the House of Commons, called on Sohi to reverse the decision.