Alberta needs to protect taxpayers from tax hikes at home

Alberta needs to protect taxpayers from tax hikes at home
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Expand the Taxpayer Protection Act to stop future governments from imposing a carbon tax

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has set her sights on stopping big-taxing politicians in Ottawa.

We also need Smith to guard against tax hikes at home. And the best way to do that is to make it harder for Alberta politicians to resurrect the provincial carbon tax. Ever.

During her first press conference as premier, Smith said she intends to “make new arguments to the Supreme Court” against Ottawa’s carbon tax.

Smith is right to fight the Trudeau government’s carbon tax; it increases the price of gas by 11 cents per litre. Even with rebates, the carbon tax will still cost the average Alberta household $671 this year, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

But Albertans need protection from money-hungry politicians in Wild Rose Country, too.

To do that, Smith should take a note from a more subtle point she made during her press conference:

“I gather the former premier had 375 agenda items and I think he managed to check off 300 of them,” said Smith. “To the extent that we can continue implementing the agenda that we got the mandate on, I’d like to be able to do that.”

It’s time for Smith to make good on a key United Conservative 2019 election platform promise: expand the Taxpayer Protection Act to include a carbon tax.

“The NDP imposed their carbon tax having hid it from voters in the last election,” said then UCP leader Jason Kenney. “We’re going to expand the Taxpayer Protection Act, which currently requires a referendum before a sales tax can be introduced. If a future government after us tries to foist a carbon tax on Albertans, they’ll have to ask the voters in a referendum first.”

Smith needs to make good on this UCP promise, especially given what’s happening in Ottawa.

The federal Conservatives turfed the last party leader who flip-flopped and suddenly wanted a carbon tax. The new leader, Pierre Poilievre, has made it clear that once he is Prime Minister, his government will repeal the federal carbon tax in its “very first budget.”

“I will cancel the tax and not replace it with any federal carbon tax of any kind,” Poilievre told the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

If a Poilievre government in Ottawa scrapped the carbon tax, would a future government in Edmonton bring its provincial carbon tax back to life?

It’s a legitimate concern for Alberta taxpayers. After all, the previous government imposed a provincial carbon tax without ever including the tax in their election platform.

Expanding the Taxpayer Protection Act will prevent future politicians from imposing a carbon tax without first asking pesky voters if they want to pay it. And it would show Albertans that Smith is serious about her commitment to taxpayers.

When running to be premier and party leader, Smith signed the CTF’s No Tax Hikes pledge. By signing the pledge, Smith promised Albertans: “I will never impose a provincial sales tax and I will not raise taxes.” Expanding the Taxpayer Protection Act would show Smith is serious about this.

Smith is right to fight Ottawa’s carbon tax. But the premier also needs to show Albertans that she is willing to go to bat against politicians at home who want to punish Albertans for heating our homes and fueling our cars.

Smith can stick up for taxpayers at home by making good on the UCP’s promise to expand the Taxpayer Protection Act.

By Franco Terrazzano
and Kris Sims

Franco Terrazzano is the Federal Director and Kris Sims is the Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Courtesy of Troy Media

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