September 20th, 2020

Interim Conservative leader doesn’t trust carbon tax

By Collin Gallant on October 21, 2016.

Interim Conservative Party Leader Rona Ambrose speaks with greenhouse owner Albert Kramer and local party candidate Glen Motz on Thursday afternoon at Big Marble Farms south of Medicine Hat.--NEWS PHOTO COLLIN GALLANT

Rona Ambrose says you can’t trust Justin Trudeau’s word on carbon tax and that her party with fight for Alberta’s interests against the federal Liberals.

The interim Conservative Party Leader and Edmonton-area MP visited Medicine Hat Thursday to support party candidate Glen Motz’s byelection bid, toured a local greenhouse and met about 500 party supporters at a noon-hour rally.

Ambrose told reporters following a tour of the huge 55-acre greenhouse at Big Marble Farms south of Medicine Hat that the Liberal’s carbon pricing plan will put local industry and jobs at risk.

“I care deeply about Alberta, Glen cares deeply about this community,” she said. “We want to send a message to Trudeau that this is bad for Alberta, bad for the agriculture sector and bad for the oil and gas sector particularly at a time when this province is hurting.

“You need a representative who is going to stand up for Alberta and Mr. Trudeau isn’t going to do that.”

Motz and Ambrose stressed that voters should “send a message to Justin Trudeau” — a statement that lines up with direct-mail campaign material sent out this week.

Trudeau told reporters in Medicine Hat last week that the program uses market mechanisms and was being largely misconstrued by political opponents.

Motz has said previously that added costs in energy production would hammer Canadian firms in the continental petroleum market.

If elected, he said he would work with party colleagues to build relationships and attempt to reverse legislation.

“You hope that they will see the value of meeting on common ground, and you can move the interests of this riding forward,” said Motz. “That’s what we are trying to do in this campaign.”

Albert Kramer, a part owner of Big Marble farms and chairman of the Red-Hat Co-op, said at $50 per tonne, the added cost to the facility will be about $700,000 per year.

“It’s a huge part of our business and it’s going to affect us big time,” said Kramer. “We’re trying to convince the government that what we’re doing is what they want.”

Kramer said the facility and those like it, which use state-of-the-art technology to re-use carbon dioxide produced from heating in plant production, and are “nearly carbon neutral.”

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He’s hoping for an exception or rebate program for the industry.

Conservatives have repeatedly said any added cost makes local industry less competitive against global and North American competitors.

Trudeau announced this month that Ottawa would move to impose a carbon tax on provinces that had no local system in place by 2018. The initial price of $10 per tonne would rise gradually to $50 by 2020 — or $20 higher than Alberta’s high-end rate of $30.

Trudeau said economic growth cannot be sustainable unless the environment is taken into account.

“This is not in anyway money coming to the federal government out of Alberta,” he told reporters on Oct. 14. “It’s up to the province to return it to vulnerable families, or farmers, or clean energy producers, or a tax cut for everyone, or any number of options.”

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said the revenue will be spent on rebates to lower income Albertans, energy efficiency programs and to fund renewable energy projects.

Ambrose said she feels strongly that premiers and the federal government will use the funds as general revenue and not return them to those businesses hit hardest by the cost.

“There’s a reason why businesses across this country are very concerned about this,” she said.

“Mr. Trudeau wants more revenue; that’s what this is about.”

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