Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership candidates are all concerned with Ottawa’s plan to reduce fertilizer emissions, but offer different proposals to fight back should they be elected Premier in October.  

The federal government is looking to impose a requirement to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizers by 30% as part of its overall effort to reduce emissions by 40 to 45% by 2030.

Reducing fertilizer use by 30% right now means less food at a time when the world needs it most, said leadership candidate and UCP MLA Rebecca Shulz.

“Instead of picking fights with those who produce our food, (the federal Liberals) should be cleaning up their own messes and making life more affordable for people right across this country,” Shulz said in a video posted to social media. 

The proposal is a direct attack on Alberta farmers and the food supply, said candidate Danielle Smith. The former Opposition Wildrose leader pointed to the controversial Alberta Sovereignty Act, which would bar federal legislation deemed harmful to the province, as the solution.

“Angry letters is not enough anymore, they don’t work,” she said in a post to Facebook. “It’s time to act with strength to protect our provincial jurisdiction from Ottawa.”

The Sovereignty Act is the product of the Free Alberta Strategy Group, of which co-founder Rob Anderson recently took a leave to serve as Smith’s campaign chair. 

Todd Loewen, who also supports the Act, agreed that strongly worded letters, panels, reports, and referendums have not slowed down Ottawa’s attack on Alberta and its industries. 

“We need to just say no to these federal intrusions into our business,” Loewen said in a statement to True North.

A Brian Jean government would file an immediate Court reference on Trudeau’s proposed nitrogen/fertilizer emission caps and invite other provinces to join, said Jean.

Jean said the March 2021 Supreme Court ruling, which ruled in favour of Ottawa’s plan to impose a carbon tax on the provinces, should not apply to agriculture and fertilizer – both of which are under exclusive provincial jurisdictions.  

“We would also challenge, under the grounds that the science on the relationship between fertilizer and climate change is not persuasive and the harms from limiting fertilizer would more than exceed any notional national benefit on emissions,” he said in a statement to True North.

Former Finance minister Travis Toews said he would work with like-minded provinces to apply a “full court press” and push Ottawa back. Alberta’s farmers and ranchers are the best in the world, and they’re already incentivized not to over fertilize, he said.

“So right now, I would work to defend Alberta farmers and ranchers and ensure that our focus — instead of on simple fertilizer use reduction — is focused on maximizing responsible production at a time when the continent, and in fact the world, needs responsibly produced Alberta and Canadian agricultural products.”

UCP MLA Leela Aheer said the federal government is once again demonstrating it doesn’t trust carbon pricing to meet its emission targets  “and the first Canadians in the crosshairs are farmers.” Sector based targets are not compatible with economy wide carbon pricing, she said in a news release.

“The Environment Minister must make a choice: exempt agriculture from carbon pricing or stop his ruinous sector target,” she wrote to supporters. 

UCP members will elect a new leader and Premier on October 6. 


  • Rachel Emmanuel

    Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.