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Trans-Canada Highway carbon tax protest monitored by RCMP

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Alberta RCMP says its members are continuing to maintain public safety at a carbon tax protest west of Calgary and say members of a similar demonstration were involved in a multi-vehicle crash.

In a Tuesday update, officials said the protest on the Trans-Canada Highway is still being closely monitored to ensure public safety while also respecting the participants' right to gather and demonstrate.

Police say they're also on scene to make sure those protesters stay off the highway and do not impede traffic with their vehicles.

"We do not take enforcement action lightly, but the safety of motorists, protesters and a traveller's right to use a public highway must be maintained," RCMP said in a news release.

"It is extremely unsafe to stand or impede traffic on a public roadway."

Protest vehicles involved in crash

At another Alberta protest against the carbon tax, RCMP said five large farm vehicles caused a multi-vehicle crash in the Crowsnest Pass region on Monday afternoon.

Police say the drivers of the vehicles were headed to a protest site and refused to stop for police when officers attempted a traffic stop.

There was no information on any injuries, but police are investigating.

RCMP added that it is illegal for any vehicle to be stopped on any highway in Alberta unless it is incapable of moving under its own power, involved in an emergency or has been stopped by a peace officer or traffic control device.

Smith against all illegal protests

When asked about the protest during a media availability in Calgary on Tuesday, Premier Danielle Smith said enforcement at protests is up to the RCMP, but she does not support any dangerous actions made by any group, no matter how peaceful their protest purports to be.

"I don't support it when Extinction Rebellion glues themselves to the street and stops traffic and I don't support anyone stopping traffic as well," she said. "You can protest, but do it at the side of the road.

"Don't interfere with the movement of goods, don't interfere with the movement of your neighbours. It's the reason we have the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act and I would just ask that people be compliant with the law."

When asked about previous comments she made about the carbon tax, before she was elected premier, where she supported it as an effective tool, Smith said those were different times.

"I may have been comparing it with the NDP carbon tax and how it was administered," she said.

"When they brought in their carbon tax, they collected it centrally and only gave a third back to Albertans and only gave it to the lowest-income Albertans. They took the remaining two-thirds into government revenue."

Smith said the federal government's way of handling the carbon tax in comparison was "preferable to the model the NDP had."

"But we're still not better off. 2021, you may recall, we were still in lockdown – we're not in lockdown anymore – so I would imagine that most people would have a different experience today."

She also called the current imposition of carbon tax on home heating fuel "immoral."

"Especially at the level it is now," she said. "It's one thing for it to be irritating and harmful – 35 cents for every $1.50 fill is what they're charging at the federal level, but on home heating the federal government is now going to be charging $4.09 on the carbon tax and gas only costs $1.72.

"I don't know on what planet someone thinks charging two-and-a-half times on a carbon tax with the base price of fuel is especially in a cool climate like ours is, makes any sense."

Smith was also asked about the litany of reports from economists who suggested that the federal government's carbon tax is an effective tool to motivate change and she said those individuals need to "get out of their ivory towers."

"In the real world, where we are layering one type of policy on top of another, it's not effective, especially since the options aren't available – they don't exist."

On April 1, the provincial government also increased its fuel tax, but Smith said that fee is necessary in order to pay for infrastructure.

Protesters say they are also against that hike, which amounts to 13 cents per litre of gas.

(With files from the Canadian Press)

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