Good morning! It’s James Keller in Calgary.
Conservative governments in Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick have spent years fighting the federal government’s decision to impose a carbon tax, but all three provinces have been putting in their own system to cover industrial emissions, in part to get Ottawa off their backs.
But a new report from the Calgary-based Pembina Institute says that of the three, only Alberta’s could meet the federal standards – and even then, only if it increases the price beyond what has already been proposed.
The report compared those provinces’ plans, as well as systems in place in B.C. and at the federal level.
It concluded that Alberta’s recently released carbon-tax plan, which sets a $30 a tonne rate on a portion of industrial emissions, is only marginally less stringent than the previous provincial government’s system.
Isabelle Turcotte says the main barrier is that the price isn’t currently set to increase along with the federal rules (though the province hasn’t ruled that out). If the rate keeps climbing to $50 a tonne in 2022, she says, the federal government would likely approve it.
Ontario and New Brunswick are different stories. Ms. Turcotte says those two plans would allow significantly increased emissions over the federal carbon tax, with New Brunswick the weakest of all of the plans reviewed. She argues that the federal government should remain firm and resist approving a plan significantly weaker than what’s already in place elsewhere.
The report has high praise for B.C., which has had a carbon tax for more than a decade. Pembina says B.C.'s regime is more strict than even the federal government’s requirements and it gives the province the highest scores in the report.
The debate affects industrial emissions and doesn’t have anything to do with the consumer carbon tax.
This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here. This is a new project and we’ll be experimenting as we go, so let us know what you think.
Around the West
OIL PRODUCTION: The Alberta government is using its oil-curtailment program to encourage new drilling, introducing a policy that will exempt any new wells from production limits. Energy Minister Sonya Savage says the goal is to increase drilling activity and create jobs by giving producers more certainty about what they will be able to produce.
DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE: Vancouver’s city council has voted to expropriate two run-down low-income hotels in the Downtown Eastside for $1. The buildings were owned by the Sahota family, who were fighting the expropriation.
WESTERN DIVIDE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is working on ways to bridge the regional divide left by the federal election, in which the governing Liberals were shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan amid growing anger about the perceived treatment of the resource sector.
HONG KONG CARTOONIST: Hong Kong cartoonist Wong Kee-kwan is bringing his illustrations, which have explored a gradually opening China, to Vancouver. The exhibition in Canada (more than 100 pieces of his work were first displayed in Toronto) comes amid increasing tension in Hong Kong as pro-democracy protesters continue their demonstrations.
CONSCIENCE RIGHTS: A backbench United Conservative MLA in Alberta has tabled a private-member’s bill to protect doctors from being forced to provide referrals for procedures they morally object to. Conscience rights are already granted to doctors by the provincial regulator, but the bill is designed to respond to an Ontario court ruling that found doctors were required to give patients an “effective referral” in such cases.
NDP IN ALBERTA: Alberta’s lone NDP MP, Heather McPherson, says she hopes she never has to choose between her party and the Trans Mountain pipeline in Parliament. Ms. McPherson supports the expansion project, unlike her leader.
MANITOBA PREMIER: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister met with the Prime Minister this week to talk climate change and Western alienation following the federal election. Mr. Pallister says climate change is an area where he can find common ground with the Justin Trudeau’s government.
METHADONE: B.C.'s former health minister, Terry Lake, says he regrets not consulting more with drug users before changing the methadone formulation five years ago – something that led to relapses and overdoses for some patients. Andrea Woo talked to Mr. Lake, who said the BC Liberal government of the day acted in good faith but it did not listen to people with lived experience.
CANADIAN NATURAL RESOURCES: The president of Canadian National Resources Ltd., one of Canada’s biggest oil producers, is being non-committal about the prospect of taking over government oil-by-rail contracts in Alberta. The United Conservative government is attempting to offload contracts signed by the previous government, but CNRL president Tim McKay says a major question around the contracts is who is going to buy the oil.
FOOD: Alexandra Gill stopped by Ubuntu Canteen, a new diner in Vancouver’s eastside headed by one of the city’s most celebrated chefs.
WEBSTER AWARDS: The Globe and Mail’s B.C. bureau picked up three Jack Webster Awards for work that included an investigation into the exploitation of immigrant workers, coverage of a blockade of a natural-gas pipeline in northern British Columbia and stories about lax campaign-finance rules in municipal elections.
Kelly Cryderman on Kenney and Trudeau’s common ground: “If a single measure could add gravitas to the project, it would be for Indigenous communities to have a financial stake.”
Eric Reguly on Encana’s Canadian departure: “It would be wrong and churlish to say Canadian companies should avoid foreign CEOs. Canada is a relatively small country and the local talent pool sometimes can’t produce the ideal candidates. But companies, especially big ones, should know that foreign CEOs’ hearts do not lie in Canada, and that’s to be expected.”
Brian Pallister on Western anger: “The federal government must speak for all Canadians when it comes to individual rights and freedoms. It must speak for all regions when it comes to fairness and opportunity. And it must speak with all premiers when it comes to forging a stronger economic and social union for all Canadians.”
David Parkinson on tough economic times in the West: “But don’t tell the rest of Canada that it doesn’t understand the pain of seeing an industry that was its economic bedrock crumble beneath it. Don’t try to explain to people in places like Oshawa, Ont., where the auto assembly plant is closing, or Shawinigan, Que., where the paper mill was shuttered, or Bonavista, N.L., where the cod disappeared and took a quarter of the town with it, what it’s like to have your livelihood threatened by the unstoppable march of change. They know.”
Harrie Vredenburg on Alberta and climate change: “Now that the divisive election is over, let us go beyond scapegoating Alberta to viewing Canada’s energy industry as a national asset in addressing climate change while creating jobs.”
Adrienne Tanner on Vancouver’s look at vaping rules: "The city’s small steps will not stop all young people from buying vaping products. But it might make it harder. And by shutting down at least some of the ads that make vaping look hip, City Council can rest easy knowing it did everything it could. "