Notley NDP soldiers on with carbon tax plan to hit middle-class Alberta
Straight ahead question.
Why are many of us set up to pay carbon tax where a big chunk of that cash is going out in corporate welfare?
Yes, we have the Notley NDP carbon tax coming in as planned Jan. 1.
In 2018, the amount you pay will go up.
To get the big corporate players onside politically, carbon tax cash from us will go to the oilpatch for green technology.
The solar power and the wind power types are also getting to wet their beaks at our expense.
To get the people most likely to vote NDP onside, dollars will go to rebates supposedly covering the anticipated costs of the tax.
For the rest of us, well, the question remains.
What do we get from paying this tax? Why do we pay while companies score coin?
"I don't know if it is as simplistic as drawing a straight line," says Shannon Phillips, the NDP's environment minister.
What is it then?
"I also don't believe it's the right thing to draw very hard and fast Us versus Them lines."
Phillips, no doubt thinking herself to be the friend of the people, defends taking our money and giving it to corporations.
"The oilsands were unlocked by essentially public and private working together."
Phillips says the NDP carbon tax is "in many ways a continuation of that work."
"We'll be partners with the folks that create jobs in this province."
These words from a party who did not campaign on this carbon tax plan.
These words from a party who gained a lot of political mileage on getting rid of a middle tax grab in the name of health care only to turn around to bring in another middle tax grab wrapped in green.
Phillips adds the tax is "consistent with economic advice" and "similar to what the province of B.C. did" while taking "a somewhat different approach."
In B.C. the carbon tax is accompanied by a tax cut elsewhere.
In Alberta the carbon tax is accompanied by squat for many.
A recent independent look-see found fewer than half of Alberta families who are couples, whether they have kids or not, will receive a rebate.
Still, Phillips insists the carbon tax has "struck the right balance" and is following a "thoughtful path."
In a speech earlier on Tuesday, the NDP environment minister goes after the opposition for being climate change deniers in about 12 seconds.
For Phillips, the "political Right" is the threat to all this wonderful progress in the works while saying "we can't afford to vilify our fellow citizens because hey have a different political stripe."
"We need to take the posturing out of this issue."
Later the government phones up and points out lots of carbon tax money will go to green infrastructure projects, like transit.
Albertans will likely be able to get some coin for better windows or a furnace upgrade.
And companies getting their piece of the financial action will be paying into the carbon tax.
At coffee break, the assembled spill out of the meeting hall.
I expected to see a lot of Mother Earth gray hairs with ponytails from small start-up companies looking to hit it big, financial minnows with names like Unicorn Solar Energy.
Instead, a lot of those milling around are the usual suspects with the deep pockets smart enough not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
If the government is handing out money they will take some and kiss a little NDP butt if required.
Standing alone, you might still wonder. Why are we paying? What do we get?
Wildroser Don MacIntyre lines up to grab a coffee.
He is against a carbon tax.
He is downright hostile to a carbon tax where many Albertans have to fork out dough while some business outfits cash in at the trough.
What can we expect to receive?
"Hopefully, a warm and fuzzy feeling," says MacIntyre, his words dripping with sarcasm.
Yes, but for hundreds of dollars you could no doubt find a warmer and fuzzier feeling than anything the Notley NDP can dream up.
Rick Bell is the Page Five columnist for the Calgary Sun.
Story: Calgary Sun