By Collin Gallant
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Conservative MP Glen Motz has softened his stance on carbon pricing, but is ratcheting up criticism of how it’s currently applied as his party proposes alternatives.
Recently, the Conservative Party and leader Erin O’Toole released an outline of its environment policy, stating a $20 per tonne carbon price for consumers would be held in an account and remitting on certain purchases.
That has rankled some supporters following years of hard campaigning against the charge they’ve said is harmful to the oil and gas sector and the larger economy.
Also recently, Motz told reporters the new plan will expand the appeal of the party to centrist voters and will provide a better alternative to all Canadians.
“Am I happy that we have a price on carbon? Personally, no I’m not,” said Motz.
“Quite frankly, if a political party today is to be taken seriously, in respect to the environment, there needs to be some approach that isn’t going to punish Canadians, but allow them to make greener choices. At $20 a tonne — it is a far cry.
“This plan says Canadians can make choices on their own. (The carbon price) is a small piece of the plan.”
The current carbon price is $40 per tonne under the Liberal government’s plan that would steadily rise to $170 over the next nine years.
The Conservative plan would reset the price to $20 per tonne and cap it at $50.
Motz stressed being a good steward of the environment is about more than reducing carbon dioxide emissions to arrest global warming and climate change.
Ottawa currently offers direct cash rebates on an annual basis to most individual consumers. The Conservative plan describes reserving amounts on a points system for people to use on green purchases such as bus passes or home improvements.
“Many are very supportive there is an environmental plan that has merit, that’s been modelled, researched and (has) been confirmed to have an impact,” said Motz.
“There are a lot of people who believe we’ve reneged on a pledge to do away with the Liberal carbon tax,” he said. “That is not true. We will be repealing the Liberal carbon tax. Period. We will be repealing C-48, the tanker ban, and C-69.
“The energy sector is vital to Canada moving forward and a green economy.”
The Conservatives under Andrew Scheer gained votes and seats during the 2019 election, but still couldn’t unseat the Liberals — who were reduced to minority status. Under leader Justin Trudeau, they lead three major parties who stated outright support for carbon pricing, and observers pointed the vague environmental plan as a reason more central Canadian voters didn’t choose Conservative candidates.
The new Conservative platform also puts politicians in several holdout provinces in a political pinch. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick challenged, but lost on the constitutionality of the carbon levy at the Supreme Court.
In Alberta, some observers have said it’s time for the province that cancelled the NDP government’s carbon levy plan and refund programs in 2019, to develop its own program.
Brooks-Medicine Hat MLA Michaela Glasgo said she believed the province could produce a stronger environmental plan that dealt better with potential economic issues. She strongly reiterated the Alberta United Conservatives would “scrap” the federal government’s carbon tax.