UCP Leader Jason Kenney wants referendums to decide carbon tax hikes

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney wants to make it impossible for the Notley government to hike Alberta’s carbon tax, without a referendum.

Kenney remains committed to repealing tax if he becomes premier

United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney wants referendums to be required on all future carbon tax increases. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press )

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney wants to make it impossible for the current or future provincial governments to hike Alberta's carbon tax without a referendum.

Kenney introduced a private member's bill Thursday which — if passed — would ensure all Albertans get to vote on any future increases in the carbon tax.

"This bill, if passed into law, would give Albertans the final say on any future increases in the carbon tax," Kenney said during a news conference at the Alberta legislature. 

Kenney intends to scrap the carbon tax as his first action if elected premier next year. He said his bill would require future governments that wish to reintroduce tax to put the question to Alberta residents. 

​The party is hopeful a vote will occur sometime during the current session of the legislature. Private member's bills, particularly from the opposition, rarely pass.

Government house leader Brian Mason is opposed to Kenney's proposal, which he said shows Kenney doesn't take climate change seriously. 

He said the carbon tax helped Alberta secure support for the Trans Mountain pipeline. Refusing future federal increases is an option if Ottawa doesn't make sure the pipeline gets built. 

"Support for the federal climate change initiatives are one of the most critical and effective tools in obtaining that support," Mason said. "And we will not give it up."

Kenney said his preference is for producers, not consumers, to pay the cost of burning carbon. Those fees could help pay for inventions, which he said could help reduce the intensity of emissions. 

UCP wants to ditch the tax 

Kenney has been staunchly opposed to the carbon tax since the NDP first announced plans for it.

He made scrapping the carbon tax the centrepiece of his successful campaign for a seat in Calgary-Lougheed late last year, and remains committed to repealing it if he becomes Alberta premier in 2019. The federal government has said it will impose a carbon tax on any province that doesn't introduce one.

Alberta's carbon tax came into effect Jan. 1, 2017, with carbon priced at $20 per tonne of emissions.

This January it increased to $30 per tonne. The carbon tax on a litre of gasoline is now 6.73 cents per litre, and 8.03 cents per litre on diesel fuel.

The federal government is requiring all provinces to raise the price of carbon to $50 a tonne by 2022. Premier Rachel Notley is making the start of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion a condition for Alberta to follow suit. 

On natural gas, the most common fuel used for home heating in Alberta, the tax is now $1.517 per gigajoule. On propane, the tax is now 4.62 cents per litre.