RED DEER — Alberta United Conservative leader Jason Kenney says he won’t speak to the policy resolutions to be debated at his party’s founding policy convention this weekend, but if he gets a mandate to fight carbon taxes he’ll use it immediately.
“If we have a strong anti-carbon tax resolution passed on Sunday I will be taking that with me on Monday when I appear before the House of Commons finance committee as a witness on the (federal) carbon tax bill,” Kenney said Friday in Red Deer.
“I think the ideas that we articulate this weekend in our platform, and hopefully in government, will inform like-minded free enterprise parties right across the country.”
The finance committee is hearing submissions on provisions of the budget that would give the federal government the power to impose a carbon price in any jurisdiction that doesn’t have its own.
The federal climate plan calls for the taxing of greenhouse gas emissions starting at $10 per tonne this year, rising $10 a year to $50 a tonne in 2022.
Kenney has said he’ll fight the federal tax, and has said if his party wins power next year job one will be repealing Premier Rachel Notley’s carbon tax on gasoline and heating fuels.
About 2,300 delegates will vote on up to 250 policy resolutions this weekend in what would be the biggest political annual general meeting in Alberta history.
The resolutions were whittled down from 1,300.
The final 250 come from those that attracted the most attention at regional policy conventions and online voting, including repealing the carbon tax, bringing back the 10 per cent flat tax on income, and introducing more private delivery of services in the public health system.
There are potentially controversial proposals, including a motion that could see abortions defunded.
There is also a proposal to have parents told if their child joins after-school clubs, which would include gay-straight alliances. Proponents of GSAs say such a motion would deter students from ever joining such peer-support networks.
Kenney said he has purposely kept a distance from the policy resolutions to ensure grassroots members drive the process.
But he said the policies adopted this weekend still must be go through further consultations before a final platform is released in the run-up to the provincial election next spring.
“I intend in June to appoint a platform committee made up of people with expertise and passion for the future of our province to consult broadly in Alberta society, outside of our party,” said Kenney.
“Because if we’re government we won’t just be a government for the 120,000 Conservative party members but for well over four million Albertans and I’m very conscious of that.”
He said the plan is to have a second general party meeting in early 2019 that will focus on candidate training and logistics for the election campaign.
There is a noticeable presence of federal Conservatives at the meeting. Edmonton-Riverbend MP Matt Jeneroux is a co-chair of the convention and federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer gave a speech to delegates.
“Today Alberta is in trouble,” Scheer told the crowd.
“We have a very left wing NDP government in Edmonton that sees its worst traits in over spending and tax hikes only amplified by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in Ottawa,” he said. “This very dangerous combination is dragging this province down.”
Kenney said given the shared aims of the two parties, it makes sense to work together, especially given that the federal conservatives have traditionally outperformed their provincial counterparts in polls and elections.
“(That) reflects the kind of coalition we are trying to build,” he said.