MEDICINE HAT, Alta. – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is aiming to counter the “political torque and misinformation” on the federal government’s controversial carbon-pricing plan.
Trudeau said the government’s challenge is to ensure people understand that the money collected on carbon pollution will flow back to the provinces and territories.
“There are a lot of people that are trying scare tactics and divisive tactics to point out disaster scenarios that have no basis in fact,” he said Friday.
The prime minister made the comments Friday in Medicine Hat, Alta., where he is stumping for Liberal candidate Stan Sakamoto before a byelection called for Oct. 24 following the death of former MP Jim Hillyer.
It was his first visit to Alberta since he announced his plans for a federal carbon tax.
The premiers of Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have criticized the government’s plan to charge $10 per tonne of carbon starting in 2018. The cost will then go up by $10 increments per year to $50 by 2022,
“What this measure will allow for is for citizens and trading partners and citizens around the world to understand that Canada gets that you don’t build a strong economy without being responsible on the environment,” he said.
Trudeau said lack of leadership on the environment by the previous Conservative government added to Alberta’s economic woes, and that adding a carbon tax will ensure clean-energy jobs for future generations.
“I get pressure from Canadians right across the country who are worried about their jobs, about their kid’s future, about their communities and it is particularly poignant here in Alberta where for so many years Alberta was a huge boost to the Canadian economy,” he said.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said she supports the idea of a national price on carbon in principle and that her province will bring in its own carbon tax based on the equivalent of $20 per tonne of carbon emissions on Jan. 1, with an increase to $30 a tonne in 2018.
Alberta’s carbon-tax plan was unveiled earlier this month as part of the provincial budget.
Notley has said she will oppose the federal carbon-tax plan until she sees serious progress on pipelines, which her province needs to gets its oil to the coasts so it can be sold to overseas markets such as China.
Trudeau’s visit to the traditional Conservative stronghold sparked some anger. About 100 protesters turned up outside his rally Thursday night chanting ‘No carbon tax” and holding signs that said “CO2 is our friend.”
“I think he’s just trying to stuff it down our throats,” said rancher Clark Walker.
“Farmers, ranchers and the oilpatch are really hurting right now. Lots of companies have moved out of Medicine Hat and it’s bad that he’s shown up.”
But Trudeau defended his visit to the riding despite the fact that it is not considered a Liberal hotbed.
“We’re here the way I would be here in any riding across the country, just because it’s so important that a government not sort of throw up its hands and say,’we’ll never get elected there, we’re going to ignore that area,'” Trudeau said.
Trudeau said former prime minister Stephen Harper failed to achieve the fundamental historic responsibility of getting Alberta’s resources to market.
“In the 21st century getting our resources to market means making sure we’re demonstrating community buy-in, we’re being strong on the science and the environment,” Trudeau said.
“Without that you can’t get it done as Stephen Harper showed for 10 years of talking a good game about Alberta but actually not being able to deliver.”
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