Today’s provincial carbon tax protest includes Red Deer

Local opponents of a new Alberta carbon tax gathering at City Hall at 11 a.m.

Twelve public protests across Alberta today — including in Red Deer — are intended to stop the provincial carbon tax in its tracks before it takes effect on Jan. 1.

But if opponents are successful at convincing the NDP government from backing down, it may only delay what’s coming anyways.

In 2018, the federal government will impose its own carbon tax to help reduce greenhouse gases, and therefore the impact of climate change, wherever provinces haven’t yet imposed one.

Shelley Leinweber, one of the local organizers of the rally in Red Deer, said while the focus is on stopping the carbon tax, there are other issues of concern, including the economy, school curriculum changes, and threats to the family farm and energy sector.

She said the event outside City Hall at 11 a.m. is non-partisan, and a number of “ordinary Albertans” will speak. She declined to name them in advance as she said she was concerned they may be harassed before the event.

The rally is to bring awareness to everyone on how detrimental the tax will be, she said.

“I don’t accept the argument that CO2 is the cause for greenhouse gases, that is related to man-made climate change. I accept that we have four seasons and that’s the climate change that we have and the climate has been changing since the beginning of the planet.”

Evan Bedford is a local environmentalist and blogger who has written about climate change for years.

“The big problem is not climate change, and the big problem is not the carbon tax. The big problem is that people don’t know how to talk to each other about climate change and about carbon tax without raising their voices and losing sight of trying to come to some consensus.”

He supports the tax because of it’s simplicity to institute. “We’ve all got to pull together and Alberta is part of the global community.” The idea is that taxing fossil fuels such as gasoline will result in people using them less.

But to get buy-in in the province of Alberta, the dialogue needs to be at the grassroots level, he said, adding he sees that happening by “deliberative democracy” where small groups of people sit across the table and talk to each other about the issue.

B.C. has had a carbon tax on fossil fuels since 2008. At $30 per tonne, it translates into about seven cents per litre on gasoline.

The Alberta government has approved a carbon tax of $20 per tonne of green house gas emissions, which will result in a 4.49 cents per litre tax on gasoline. When the levy goes to $30 per tonne in 2018, it will add an additional 2.24 cents per litre. The carbon tax applies to other fuels such as diesel and propane.

The province says the money raised will go into energy-saving projects and help diversify Alberta’s energy industry. Tax rebates will be available, depending on income, to singles, couples and families. Marked fuels used in agriculture are exempt from the carbon tax.

Shelley Leinweber

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