BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Official Opposition Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean says he hears concerns across the province, specifically surrounding carbon taxes and the accelerated coal shutdowns.
Jean said he recently visited the Lacombe Golf & Country Club to hear from residents about their concerns, priorities and their vision for Alberta’s future. He expressed concern about the alignment of the federal carbon tax with the Canadian constitution, and says he’s further looking into this issue.
“I do want to say this – in regards to the federal carbon tax, I am checking out the constitutionality of the legislation and once we determine that, there might be a need to get lawyers involved.
“Under Section 91 and 92 of the constitution, there is a clear mandate from the federal government for the provincial government. At this stage, there are some experts who are looking into whether or not this carbon tax is an infringement on provincial jurisdiction.”
He continued, “Certainly we would take that step and have some opportunity to do that before the federal carbon tax comes into place. After the federal carbon is put into place, I would certainly try to do everything to try to reduce personal and corporate income taxes on many levels to minimize the impact of the carbon tax.”
Jean said the federal carbon tax is going to have more implications and costs than people realize – especially for rural Albertans – as many people who live in rural areas need to drive more for work and personal resources.
He said the Wildrose Party is working towards making sure the NDP create a competitive environment through personal and corporate tax cuts in order to mitigate the affects of the federal carbon tax, and suggested the NDP do not bring forth an additional provincial carbon tax at this time.
“We know it’s inevitable that the federal-liberal carbon tax is coming in. It would be an advantage to wait because the federal government carbon tax is much less than the tax suggested by the Alberta NDP. It would give everyone a chance to get used to it and it wouldn’t affect the economy quite as much,” he said.
Jean said he has heard many Albertans speak out against the accelerated coal shut downs as well, including a family at the recent Lacombe gathering.
“The look of despair on people’s faces who rely on coal is very real,” he said.
In regards to coal operations shutdowns he said, “I think we should keep the current government model and carry that model going forward. I think corporations need to invest in green technology so that we can run our existing coal fleet in a GHG-emission free fashion – much like they’ve done in Saskatchewan.”
He said Alberta has the ability to become leaders in clean-coal technology by utilizing new methods of production.
“I definitely think that’s a better investment than other suggestions by this NDP government and federal Liberals. These taxes and poor decisions in a bad economy are going to hurt every Alberta family going forward.”