The issue of affordability is dominating the Alberta election, but price hikes are affecting everyone across Canada.
Over the past few months, I’ve written extensively on these very pages about the impact of price hikes on families and specifically about the cost of rising energy prices.
Energy is the industry that powers every other industry, so any increase in energy costs increases the cost of everything else.
It also reduces the ability of our population to innovate and create jobs.
That’s why it’s particularly concerning to see the federal government’s plan to deliberately hike the price of electricity for all Canadians.
The federal government has made it no secret that it intends to speed up its plan to force the provinces to transition to a net-zero electricity grid.
An already incredibly difficult challenge based on the original schedule of 2050, will now be made almost impossible by moving up the deadline to 2035.
I say almost impossible because there is, of course, one way to make it happen - throwing literally billions and billions and billions of our money at the problem.
And so it’s probably unsurprising that that’s exactly what Justin Trudeau and his eco-radical Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault plan on forcing the provinces to do, through what they call Clean Electricity Regulations.
It must be noted that, while the federal government has been given mostly free reign on environmental issues by the Supreme Court, that free reign does not extend (yet, at least) to the ownership, operation, or regulation of electricity, which is (for now) still constitutionally provincial jurisdiction.
Even the radical Suzuki Foundation, who were the ones to originally propose this 2035 plan, showed that they know this when they cited a recent Supreme Court decision:
“The court was clear, however, the federal government does not have authority over the ownership, investment, operation and regulation of electricity, which is under provincial jurisdiction. And the court has signalled that the Canadian government should implement its GHG policies in a manner that recognizes its shared environmental authority with the provinces.”
This means that in order for the federal government to enforce this initiative, they will need the support of the provinces.
What may be more surprising, at least at first glance then, is the variety of reactions from the provinces.
But once you dig into the details of the Regulations, it starts to become more clear.
Quebec, despite normally being opposed to such top-down Ottawa impositions, is actually mostly fine with the plan.
But that’s because they already get most of their electricity from Hydro, and any costs they’ll incur to cover the remainder will be mostly paid for by Alberta anyway, right?
In Saskatchewan and Alberta though, the vast majority of electricity is generated by non-renewable resources - mostly natural gas.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe sees this policy as such a threat that, on Tuesday, he announced that his province might move to block Ottawa's plan entirely.
He strongly condemned the Clean Energy Regulations and said that his government is currently investigating its options to push back against the enforcement of the federal plan to impose net-zero electricity generation by 2035.
Asked by a journalist what those options were, Moe replied:
“Realistically, what are the options of following the federal plan which can’t be achieved? You triple, maybe four times your power rates, you don’t achieve the plan that is put forward and you ultimately, on December the 31st of 2029, you turn off all of the coal fired plants that are here. And then December the 31st of 2034, you turn off all of the gas plants that are operating in the province as well… [and on] January 1 of 2035… the lights won’t come on and the furnace fans won’t work.”
So extreme and impractical is this federal policy that even the Saskatchewan NDP are opposing it!
Aleana Young, the NDP MLA responsible for Economy, Jobs, and Electricity issues, came out strongly against it, saying:
"The Feds are going too far too fast and 2035 isn't realistic."
Moving on to Alberta, things are a little different.
On Wednesday, Alberta's United Conservative Party came out strongly against the plan, citing research that shows that the total cost to Albertans of a 2035 transition would be $87 billion.
That’s about $20,000 for every single Albertan!
At a press conference highlighting the astronomical costs of the plan, UCP Jobs Minister, Brian Jean, said:
“This is not only unrealistic, but it is dangerous to the long-term health and viability of our economy. Everyone from moms and dads to business owners to farmers would bear the brunt of this reckless policy commitment that comes straight from the desk of Justin Trudeau.”
But, while in Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Party government and the NDP opposition are in complete agreement, and are standing up to Ottawa together, in Alberta, the two parties couldn’t disagree more.
Rachel Notley didn’t just not speak out against the federal regulations; she’s been pushing hard in favour of them for months and has promised, on multiple occasions, to implement them in full should she win the election later this month.
Maybe this shouldn’t have been such a surprise, given that Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP align with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on almost every piece of his irresponsible pursuit to eliminate oil and gas production in Canada completely.
But when the Alberta NDP are so far out there that they’re making the Saskatchewan NDP look like the adults in the room by comparison, you know you've got a problem!
Premier Danielle Smith summed it up yesterday:
"That is not going to be affordable for people on fixed income, it’s not going to be affordable for renters, it’s not going to be affordable for everyday families, and that is why, when the NDP blithely states that they're going to follow Steven Guilbeault's plan of getting to a net-zero power grid by 2035, people need to know it is the most expensive campaign promise that has been put forward in this election - it’s going to have a huge impact on affordability.”
Western Canada has the resources to provide affordable, reliable energy to the rest of the country and to the world, but we are unable to do so due to a federal government that is dedicated to dismantling the energy industry entirely.
We can’t afford to have the Alberta government working to dismantle it too.
Project Confederation is dedicated to ensuring that the long-term economic viability of Western Canada is safeguarded by meaningful constitutional reforms that protect provincial jurisdiction in the face of federal threats.
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