An Alberta NDP leadership candidate is taking a page out of the Manitoba NDP’s playbook calling for an end to the carbon tax.
During an interview with Ryan Jespersen, Edmonton MLA Rakhi Pancholi announced her bid to abolish the carbon tax.
Pancholi released her campaign launch video only hours before speaking with Jespersen on Thursday.
She was specifically referring to the consumer carbon tax, which she said has become a political football and a distraction that has kept both the provincial UCP and federal Conservatives from taking any meaningful action on climate change.
The announcement comes two days after federal NDP’s Charlie Angus tabled a bill in the House of Commons that would jail and fine people for speaking positively about oil and gas.
Manitoba’s NDP premier, Wab Kinew, stopped collecting carbon tax on home heating in November. Kinew said that the carbon tax was not a “silver bullet” to address climate change, and asked the federal government to provide data or evidence towards which policies can best help solve global warming.
The tax was repealed by the UCP in 2019 but re-administered by Ottawa as a federal levy.
Nonetheless, Pancholi said that she is proud of the work done by the Alberta NDP to bring in the climate leadership plan in 2016.
If the Alberta NDP won the next provincial election, the party would have to convince Ottawa to accept an Alberta emissions program without a carbon tax.
Pancholi was first elected in 2019, serving as a critic for children’s services and education. She was not in government during Rachel Notley’s time as Alberta Premier.
“The public support for consumer carbon tax is still very, very low. 68% of Albertans still do not buy into the idea of a consumer carbon price,” she said. “And then we have a federal government that has undermined the very premise of a consumer carbon price by carving out exceptions for heating oil and for certain areas of the country.”
The current Alberta government has been reactive, instead of proactive on the climate file, according to Pancholi.
Pancholi suggested developing a plan with experts, climate activists, and industry to create a proactive, not reactive plan “because we can’t afford to wait any longer.”
The leadership candidate has her eyes not just on her current campaign, but also the 2027 provincial election.
“The rural outreach strategy is critically important,” said Pancholi. “I believe it’s imperative that any leader of this party is focused on leading the entire province, not just the two major cities.”
She added that the NDP increased its vote in almost every riding outside of Edmonton and Calgary in the last election and that the momentum needs to carry forward.
While Calgary and Edmonton were predominantly orange, signifying NDP-winning ridings, almost the entire rest of the province was Blue.
Former justice minister Kathleen Ganley was the first NDP candidate to announce a leadership bid. Others rumoured to be joining the leadership race are Edmonton MLAs David Shepherd, Sarah Hoffman, Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, and former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Party members will pick a new leader on June 22.
Alberta’s next provincial general election is scheduled for May 31, 2027.