It is time for the NDP leadership candidates to tell us where they stand on a carbon tax

Kris SimsTrying to keep up with the NDP’s position on the carbon tax is like falling asleep halfway through the game and suddenly waking up.

The team is skating the other way!

Alberta’s NDP is in the middle of its leadership race and it’s crucial for the candidates to clearly state their positions on implementing a provincial carbon tax.

After the next federal election, after all, Albertans might be freed from a federal carbon tax.

After the hike in April, the federal carbon tax now costs 17 cents per litre of gasoline, 21 cents per litre of diesel, and 15 cents per cubic metre of natural gas. Filling up a minivan costs about $13 more, and filling up a pickup truck costs about $20 extra just in the carbon tax.

Truckers filling up big rigs will have to fork over about $200 for the carbon tax bill on diesel.

alberta ndp carbon tax
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Farmers use natural gas and propane to dry their grains and keep their barns warm and are often charged thousands of dollars a year in carbon tax bills. Try keeping a chicken barn at a steady 30 degrees all year round without using natural gas and propane. It can’t be done practically.

That’s how the carbon tax makes nearly everything more expensive. It costs farmers more to grow food, truckers more to haul supplies, and Canadians more to drive to work and heat their homes.

And it shows.

About half of Canadians now say they are within $200 of being unable to pay their bills, and food banks are reporting record demand, with an increasing number of working families needing help.

Close to 70 percent of Canadians polled say they want the federal carbon tax frozen or scrapped altogether. Seven out of ten provincial premiers are also yelling at the Trudeau government to read the room and scrap or freeze its carbon tax.

With the tide turning against the carbon tax, former Alberta NDP health minister Sarah Hoffman was blunt when she announced she wanted to replace Rachel Notley as NDP leader.

“I think the consumer carbon tax is dead,” Hoffman told reporters in February. “If you don’t have public support, you can’t carry on with something like that.”

Hoffman’s stance came as a surprise to some since Alberta’s former NDP government created a provincial carbon tax in 2016. The tax cost Alberta taxpayers more than $1 billion before it was scrapped by the UCP government in 2019.

Wanna take the orange pill and fall down a rabbit hole? The NDP was the first Canadian political party to use the term “axe the tax” in opposition to a carbon tax.

Back in 2008, former British Columbia NDP leader Carole James called B.C.’s provincial carbon tax “lipstick on a pig,” and the party campaigned to “axe the tax” in the 2009 provincial election.

Former B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan railed against the provincial carbon tax while he was in the opposition.

“People in northern parts of British Columbia, people on the wild West Coast where the winds blow and the temperatures drop, what’s the cost going to be for those people?” Horgan said in the Victoria legislature.

Former federal NDP leader Jack Layton also said: “Canada is a cold place and heating your home really isn’t a choice. We shouldn’t punish people, and that’s what a carbon tax does.”

Hoffman is now the only Alberta NDP candidate to state her opposition to a carbon tax.

Other leadership candidates – former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, current MLAs Kathleen Ganley and Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, and labour activist Gil McGowan – must clearly state their positions on a carbon tax.

If the federal carbon tax gets scrapped, would the Alberta NDP create its own?

Albertans are fighting to afford the basics, and anyone who wants to lead the province should be clear about the carbon tax.

Kris Sims is the Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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