UCP government expected to eliminate carbon taxs as spring session begins
The Jason Kenney-led United Conservative Party government will begin its reign in the Alberta Legislature Tuesday and it's expected the start of the spring session will include the removal of the provincial carbon tax.
After capturing 63 of the legisature's 87 seats in the April 16 election, the UCP will officially form a majority government with the swearing-in ceremony of its caucus.
Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, expects Premier Kenney to follow script and make good on three priorities outlined on the campaign trail. “We know the first thing is to get rid of the carbon tax,” Williams told CTV on Sunday. “I doubt Albertans will notice much of a difference initially except there might be stickers on our gas pumps and more refunds coming in our next taxes.”
“The second thing will be the reduction in regulations to try to make it friendlier for business, generally speaking,” added Williams. “Is that going to mean less workplace safety legislation? Is it going to be additional changes to what was Bill 6? We don’t know about that yet. A lot of the changes that have been made since Bill 6 have actually been advocated for by agricultural industry groups and they like the current set of legislations.”
“The third thing is going to be the reduction of corporate tax.”
Williams suspects Kenney’s throne speech on Wednesday will address the challenges facing the energy sector and could touch on potential changes to the proposed plans for transporting crude by rail as the premier appears to favour a system where the private sector, not the government, facilitates the transport arrangements.
“There is a real set of challenges there for the government particularly with not knowing what’s happening with the pipeline, with Bills C-48 and C-69,” explained Williams. “It’s a real delicate balancing act to try and, on the one hand, challenge the federal government but also work with the federal government for Alberta’s interest between now and the federal election.”
Williams says reducing corporate tax rates from 12 per cent to 8 per cent by 2022 would likely be offset by controversial cuts to other areas, potentially health care or education, and could hurt Kenney’s standing.
“We’re not talking about Ralph Klein who seemed to be able to manage unpopular policies and remain popular himself,” said Williams. “Jason Kenney’s starting out with less likability. He’s more-or-less at the level Rachel Notley was at when she was leaving.”
Williams says Notley, the leader of the opposition, needs to prioritize and pick her battles with the newly formed provincial government. "What are they going to fight harder for? Which things are they going to propose changes for?" asked Williams. "It can't just be about disagreeing. It's got to be about proposing good alternatives."
With files from CTV's Brenna Rose