Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed his government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions during a visit to Alberta Friday — a province on the verge of eliminating its own carbon tax plan.
“Nowhere across the country will it be free to pollute,” Trudeau told reporters at the Edmonton Convention Centre.
“We’d much rather work with the provinces on that but if some provinces don’t want to act to fight climate change, the federal government will, because it’s too important for Canadians.”
Premier Jason Kenney has vowed to cancel the province’s carbon tax, put in place by the NDP government.
Provinces, however, are obliged to meet a threshold on carbon reduction and if they fail to do so, would be subject to the federal tax.
Trudeau insisted that Alberta backing out of the carbon tax regime will not affect the Trans Mountain pipeline project.
“Moves that a province may or may not make will have no bearing on the approval process for important projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.”
The federal government says it will make a final decision on the pipeline June 18.
Outside the convention centre Friday, about two dozens protestors gathered to send a message to Trudeau to support pipelines.
Jason Battershill, a recent University of Calgary graduate in petroleum engineering, urged the prime minister to move forward with the pipeline.
“The federal government has the power to make it happen,” he said. “You know the TMX has been stalled time and time again and so we think that it’s time that it actually gets built. Enough stalling.”
On the convention centre terrace, Trudeau acknowledged that Albertans have gone through difficult times with uncertainty in oil prices and project approvals.
“Albertans have contributed massively to the well-being of Canadians right across the country.”
Trudeau said his government is committed to getting Albertan natural resources to markets outside the U.S.
Despite a Conservative majority government in Alberta, Trudeau said he would maintain a positive approach heading into the federal election campaign in the fall.
“We’re going to continue to work hard every single day — not to amplify some people’s fears the way some politicians do, but to actually demonstrate how to allay those fears.”
Trudeau was in Edmonton to meet with Mayor Don Iveson to “highlight” the Liberal government’s municipal infrastructure funding, media was told.
Two weeks ago, Edmonton council agreed to come up with a back-up plan in case the new UCP government withdraws funding from climate programs which pay for green initiatives.
In the federal budget released in March, the Liberals committed to raising the municipal infrastructure transfer from $51 million to $102 million for cities and towns.
Iveson called the increase a “very important acknowledgment of the federal government’s willingness to work directly with local government.”
Iveson noted the extra money can be used for transportation-related projects, further investment in the district energy system at Blatchford or more affordable housing.
Edmonton city council will decide in June where to invest the extra $51 million from the federal government, he said.