Alberta NDP leader at odds with federal emission targets

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley addresses the Calgary Chamber of Commerce in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. (The Canadian Press - image credit)
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley addresses the Calgary Chamber of Commerce in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. (The Canadian Press - image credit)

Alberta's Opposition leader Rachel Notley said Friday that emission targets set by the federal government and the federal NDP are wrong — a strategy political analysts say could be an attempt to distance herself from Ottawa leaders.

The provincial NDP leader and former premier was on CBC's West of Centre Friday.

The federal government has pledged to reduce Canada's emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh doesn't think those targets are aggressive enough.

His party has proposed an emissions target of 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Notley said she doesn't agree with either goal.

"It's not helpful that the federal government threw out that number either. Quite honestly neither is helpful," Notley said.

"Both are wrong, and I've been very clear on that, and that has been my position and I will advocate that position with every tool and tactic that I can muster, should I be given the opportunity to do that job, because it's not practical."

LISTEN: Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley on West of Centre:

Janet Brown, an Alberta pollster and political commentator, said Notley is speaking to a real concern many Albertans have about the timeline.

"Most Albertans, their struggle is with the timing, not the goal," Brown said.

Brown added that the comments could indicate that Notley wants to distance herself from or contradict what Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has called the Notley-Singh-Trudeau alliance.

"I think anybody who knows Rachel Notley knows that she's not carrying Jagmeet Singh's briefcase," Brown said.

CBC
CBC

"They're two different parties and [they] have important disagreements."

"There was clear criticism she had with the federal government as well," said Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

"And that echoes what we have seen if you talk to industry … they want to reduce emissions. They're working on reducing emissions. But these targets are unachievable without a massive production cut."

Earlier this week, Notley also said she also wanted to see Ottawa pony up more money for the "just transition" plan.

Brown thinks Notley will have a lot of climate policy in her platform ahead of when voters head to the polls in May.

"I think for most Albertans, they see Rachel Notley as somebody who's very strong when it comes to social policy and social programs … childcare, education and healthcare," she said.

"Those are her strengths and the weakness, the perceived weakness, is more around the economy and that's to those voters who are sitting on the fence. To those swing voters, she doesn't have to convince them that she cares about child care. She has to convince them that she will take a prudent approach to the economy."

No plan on taxes yet

Notley said it was "unlikely" she would ever reinstate the consumer carbon tax, but added that Albertans would need to "stay tuned" when it comes to personal income taxes.

"Certainly it is not our intention that there would be a net increase in taxes through personal income tax. That is not the case," Notley said.

Mike Symington/CBC
Mike Symington/CBC

"You might see even some net decreases, but it is not our intention to have a net increase in personal taxation levels [as] a platform piece going into the next election."

Bratt said the NDP in Alberta are often associated with higher tax rates.

"Typically, the NDP runs the issue of healthcare and education, and conservatives control taxes."

He added that it's hard for politicians to say what taxes will look a few months from now, as the province is currently in a surplus.

Brown echoed that sentiment saying it's prudent for Notley to wait and see next quarter's numbers.

"And get a sense of where revenues are at before she starts making some big spending promises."