After batting away overheated claims that its carbon levy would crash a precarious provincial economy, the Alberta government is now facing allegations that its carbon tax and rebate program is too good.
On January 2, the day after the levy took effect, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips called a news conference to release the groundbreaking news that the province was “still standing”—and that rebate cheques would begin making their way to qualifying Albertans within a few days. In the days leading up to the new year, opposition Wildrose MLAs had made a high-profile point of filling their vehicles before the tax took effect, then posting the obligatory selfies to tell the story.
“Fillin’ up the truck & every jerrycan I can find before the Carbon Tax strikes at midnight,” tweeted Wildrose member Derek Fildebrandt.
But the government estimates that six in 10 households across the province will receive rebates. And now that the cheques are flowing, the opposition Alberta Party is claiming “that programs funded by the new tax are politically motivated and Albertans are being lured by rebates that are too generous,” CBC reports.
“I think they’re trying to bribe Albertans with not only their own money, but with other people’s money, to get them on board with their carbon tax plan,” said party leader Greg Clark.
“It’s likely the beginning of an endless string of political pet projects,” added Wildrose environment critic Todd Loewen.
Clark said his critique was based on a Statistics Canada model. Phillips called it a “back-of-the-napkin calculation”, adding that she wouldn’t apologize for putting money in peoples’ pockets while economic times are tough.
“If the Wildrose wants to attack educators, or ranchers, or Indigenous organizations that are eligible for these supports in order to adapt to a changing climate, then I leave them to it,” she said, referring to a climate adaptation program funded by the carbon levy.