Alberta has had enough of the federal environment minister.

Premier Danielle Smith said in an interview that her government simply can’t work with Minister Steven Guilbeault, whom she accused of continued “defiance and disrespect” of the provinces.

Smith’s comments on CTV’s Your Morning reflect a growing tension between provincial and federal approaches to environmental policy and energy strategy.

Smith explained that she has a good relationship with some federal ministers, like Chrystia Freeland—who worked with Alberta on carbon capture, utilization, and storage—and François-Philippe Champagne—who she said has been helpful with getting major energy projects to the finish line. 

“So I would say that there are some ministers that we can work with, but we can’t work with Steven Guilbeault,” Smith said.

Despite Smith’s best efforts, she explained that the real problem is Guilbeault acting outside the constitution.

“He has defiance and disrespect for the provinces, and he’s creating an unaffordable life for everyday Albertans and Canadians,” said Smith.

 Smith expressed her frustration with the federal government’s ambitious target of achieving a net-zero power grid by 2035, labelling it as “unachievable” and potentially detrimental to Alberta’s economic growth. Alberta is advocating for a more measured approach, suggesting a 2050 timeline for carbon neutrality, aligning with global standards.

“We think we can get to carbon neutrality by 2050,” Smith said, emphasizing the province’s commitment to environmental responsibility while maintaining economic stability.

However, in a conversation last month with CTV’s Vassy Kapelos, Guilbeault expressed confidence in the federal government’s environmental strategy, stating they have “a shot” at achieving their goals by maintaining their current course.

“We feel that we’re on very solid, legal and constitutional grounds,” Guilbeault said. He added that the provinces and not the federal government are the problem.

“Alberta and Saskatchewan challenge just about everything we’ve done when it comes to fighting climate change in the courts. We can anticipate that this will be no exception,” he said.

The Supreme Court had previously deemed Guilbeault’s Impact Assessment Act—which outlines the process for evaluating major projects’ environmental, social, and economic impacts—unconstitutional.

Smith further discussed Alberta’s leadership in renewable energy, emphasizing the province’s significant investments in this sector. However, she stressed the importance of maintaining a balanced energy mix, including natural gas, to ensure grid stability and economic growth.

Addressing a recent poll suggesting a desire for an earlier federal election, as reported by True North, Smith did not explicitly state her preference for the election’s timing. Instead, she reiterated the need for a change in the environmental ministry as a primary concern.

“They can start there, and then we’ll see when we go to an election,” Smith said, indicating that the issue with the environment minister takes precedence over electoral considerations.

In a statement to the Senate in November, Guilbeault said he has no plans to resign, regardless of any potential future modifications to the federal government’s carbon pricing plan.