Angela Kokott: One more blow against Alberta’s carbon levy

When will the Notley government admit the carbon levy is a big mistake? Right from the get go there has been one misstep after another.

There was criticism about an Ontario company being picked. Then, more criticism about having someone come into your home to screw in light bulbs and over the restrictions on what bulbs will be replaced. All of that criticism warranted.

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  • Alberta making changes to carbon tax rebates

  • Brad Wall criticizes attempt to link carbon tax with equalization payments

    A closer look at where Alberta’s carbon tax revenues are going

     Roll out another program. Roll out more criticism.

    Then, on May 17, Finance Minister Joe Ceci issues a mea culpa. Thousands of families angry that they were forced to pay back the rebate given to loved ones who had passed away. Minister Ceci admitted “the program didn’t work as it should have”. 

    That’s an understatement.  

    Why was the rebate based on 2015 tax returns? Albertans weren’t paying the levy in 2015. Why weren’t the rebates based on 2017 tax returns  – the year we’re all paying the levy?

    READ MORE:
    Alberta making changes to carbon tax rebates

    I know.  I know.  The government wanted to start the rebate program even before the first dime was collected because it knew it had to get ahead of the criticism.

     Message to the government: it didn’t work.

     The carbon levy was sold to us as a policy needed to get pipelines to the east and west. With the B.C. election results up in the air and First Nations groups joining forces to oppose Keystone, the biggest criticism is yet to come. 

Sask. premier describes federal carbon tax plan as a ‘ransom note’

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna unveiled plans for a federally imposed carbon tax Thursday morning.

The price will be $10 per tonne of CO2 for any jurisdiction that has not developed their own carbon pricing strategy as early as next spring.

McKenna said every penny raised by the federal carbon price will be returned to the province it came from. The plan is to give it directly back to individuals and businesses through tax rebates.

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READ MORE: It’s not a carbon tax, it’s a ‘behaviour-changing measure’: government officials

Provinces that enact their own carbon pricing plan can choose how to spend the collected revenue.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall remains staunchly opposed to the carbon tax, saying it would remove $1.3 billion from the provincial economy.

“This federal government white paper is more like a ransom note,” he said.

READ MORE: Environment Minister Scott Moe says Saskatchewan will never allow a carbon tax

Wall stood by previous arguments, that a price on carbon will disproportionately affect key Saskatchewan industries like mining and agriculture.

“Even if fuel tax is exempt [for agriculture] it will still impact fertilizer, inputs and transportation,” Wall said.

The premier did credit McKenna for acknowledging Saskatchewan based innovations including the Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) facility at Boundary Dam Three near Estevan, Sask., zero-till farming methods and ongoing research at the province’s universities.

However, Wall still believes investment in innovations like CCS should be seen as an alternative to a carbon tax.

Wall said the provincial government still plans to take legal action against the federal government.

READ MORE: Brad Wall criticizes attempt to link carbon tax with equalization payments

McKenna said Ottawa has the authority to impose a carbon tax on the province because protecting the environment is federal jurisdiction.

Officials from McKenna’s office added that this is not a tax in the traditional sense, because it is not intended to raise revenue for the federal government. Instead its goal is to change behavior when it comes to pollution.

READ MORE: Energy CEOs discuss Alberta’s carbon tax as Sask. continues to voice opposition

Saskatchewan has its own carbon tax framework that would target heavy emitters, and collected revenue would go toward an innovation fund. It was developed in 2009, but has not been implemented.

When asked by a reporter if Wall would sooner implement this plan or a forced federal carbon price, his response was simple.

“We’re going to win in court,” Wall said.

With files from the Canadian Press

More to come…

7-month-old baby who weighed 9 lbs died from gluten, lactose-free diet, court hears

A Belgian couple are on trial following the death of their seven-month-old son, who died of malnourishment after being fed an alternative diet.

Lucas, whose last name isn’t being revealed, died on June 6, 2014, weighing only nine pounds. According to local reports, he was suffering dehydration, and his stomach and intestines were found to be empty.

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Normal weight for male infants of that age ranges from 14.5 to 22 pounds, according to the World Health Organization.

Prosecutors say the boy’s death was a result of the parents feeding their son a restricted diet.

READ MORE: Spanish baby develops scurvy after parents feed him almond milk-only diet

The parents —; identified as Peter, 34, and Sandrina, 30 —; made the diagnosis that their son was gluten intolerant and had a lactose allergy. They began feeding him alternative products such as rice milk and quinoa milk.

Despite the parents’ concerns their child suffered from allergies, they did not seek professional advice. A search for medical documents for the child came up short.

“Not a single doctor had a dossier about Lucas and child protection services did not know about them,” prosecutors said.

In response, the baby’s father said: “We never went with Lucas to a doctor because we never noticed anything unusual.”

When it became apparent to the parents that their son was in need of urgent care, they sought help from a homeopathic doctor an hour’s drive from their home; the practitioner immediately sent them to the hospital, where their son was pronounced dead.

The parents, who own a natural health food store and have three other children, say their son was a happy child.

“We never wanted the death of our son,” his mother said.

New research released earlier this month warned people who don’t suffer from celiac disease to be wary of gluten-free diets, because these diets could put them at a higher risk of heart disease.

READ MORE:
Going gluten-free to ward off heart disease might have opposite effect: study

The case isn’t the first of its kind, with similar ones cropping up all over the world, prompting lawmakers to consider the effects of special diets on children.

In Italy, a bill introduced last summer could jail parents who imposed strict diets on their children. The law would see parents face a year in prison for raising kids on a vegan diet, and up to four years in prison if kids develop long-term health implications from their diet.

READ MORE:
Italian couple loses custody of child after strict vegan diet lands him in hospital

“I just find it absurd that some parents are allowed to impose their will on children in an almost fanatical, religious way, often without proper scientific knowledge or medical consultation… do-it-yourself on these matters terrorizes me,” Elvira Savino, the politician who proposed the bill, told Reuters at the time.

Closer to home, an Alberta couple was found guilty last year of failing to provide the necessities of life after their 18-month-old son died of bacterial meningitis. David and Collet Stephan had treated their son Ezekiel with home remedies that included garlic and horseradish.

READ MORE: Alberta meningitis death trial shines light on natural medicine

Critics say toddler’s meningitis death a wake-up call about natural medicine

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Critics say toddler’s meningitis death a wake-up call about natural medicine

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‘Very clear’ parents in Stephan meningitis trial did not meet necessities of care

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Online post by father of Ezekiel Stephan criticizes prosecutor



*with files from Carmen Chai

Montreal’s Irish insist sacred burial ground shouldn’t be developed

Fergus Keyes walks through a parking lot near the Victoria Bridge, but unlike any other in the city, he considers this piece of land to be sacred ground.

Underneath the concrete lies the 150-year-old remains of thousands of Irish immigrants.

“Since 1907, Irish Montrealers have been asking for this space to be developed into a proper memorial space, but nothing has ever happened,” said Keyes, who is the director of the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation.

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He wants the land converted into a park and memorial.

In 1847, during the Irish Famine, 100,000 Irish immigrants came to Canada, but many contracted typhus and died.

“Six-thousand [people] were dying over a period of a couple of months,” Keyes said.

“In the end, they were being trenched, the bodies were being thrown in.”

Crown corporation Canada Lands Company (CLC) owns the land.

Keyes had asked the company to donate it to his group or the city, but told Global News he just found out the corporation sold the land to a developer.

“We have asked on numerous occasions, ‘what kind of development?’ but for some reason, they feel they don’t have to tell us who they sold the land to and what they plan to do with it,” Keyes said.

The CLC said in a statement the property is under contract for sale, but would provide few other details, despite Hydro-Quebec confirming to Global News that it bought the land.

The contract has an obligation to include a future Irish heritage commemoration, but did not say what that is.

“On a personal level, I would find it both disrespectful and insulting, not just to the Irish community, but to all of Montreal,” said Keyes.

There is an existing memorial across the street from the parking lot, known as the Black Rock, erected in 1859.

“We don’t believe it’s a proper memorial. It’s a small space, it sits in the middle of a bloody highway, it’s dangerous to get to,” he said.

Keyes hopes Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre will intervene.

“Clearly what happened in those days is important to commemorate, so we will take a look at it,” Coderre said.

The CLC confirmed its deal will close in July and there will be some sort of park on site, but Keyes argued he won’t be satisfied if any part of the land doesn’t respect what’s buried below.

It’s not a carbon tax, it’s a ‘behaviour-changing measure’: government officials

The Liberal government today released the carbon-pricing scheme it will impose on any province or territory that, by spring 2018, doesn’t have its own comparable scheme in place.

As of today, 97 per cent of Canadians live in provinces that either already have a price on carbon pollution, or are planning and working toward it, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Thursday.

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The three per cent of Canadians left out of that equation are in Saskatchewan – the one province that continues to hold out on signing on to the Trudeau government’s climate change plan.

READ MORE: Trump administration initiates NAFTA renegotiation process

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is so opposed to the idea, he has said he’ll fight Ottawa all the way to the Supreme Court.

But McKenna isn’t concerned. Rather she’s certain imposing a country-wide price on carbon pollution is Ottawa’s prerogative.

“We’ve been working hard to work with Saskatchewan,” she told reporters, noting she’s had more than a dozen meetings on this issue with the province’s environment minister.

“But let me be absolutely clear, that it is well within the federal government’s right to take action to protect the environment.”

READ MORE:
Sask. premier describes federal carbon tax plan as a ‘ransom note’

Environment Canada officials earlier in the day said a possible basis for legal action from Saskatchewan would be that the federal government cannot impose a tax on a province or territory. On that front, the feds are safe, the official said.

“This is not a revenue-raising tax,” he said. “This a behaviour-changing measure.”

Any revenue generated from whatever scheme a province develops will go right back to the province, though Ottawa is still determining exactly how that will happen; officials said they are so far looking at ways to return the funds to residents or businesses, which could help offset rising costs of energy.

Most Canadians live in jurisdictions where carbon pollution is already levied in some form.

B.C. and Alberta have carbon taxes, while Ontario and Quebec have cap-and-trade systems. Nova Scotia has said it intends to create a cap-and-trade system in 2018, and the other Atlantic provinces are gauging whether to join Nova Scotia’s plan or go it alone.

While the Liberal government is standing ready to impose the levy scheme it unveiled today, the scheme is also available to any province that doesn’t want to develop and implement its own.

Thursday’s “technical paper” on the federal carbon pricing plan details the levies on liquid, gas and solid fossil fuels Ottawa would impose in order to meet the targets Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laid out late last year.

READ MORE:
Brad Wall criticizes attempt to link carbon tax with equalization payments

Canada has agreed to cut its emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. That requires a reduction of almost 200 million tonnes of carbon-equivalent emissions in 13 years, or the equivalent of taking every car in Canada off the road, twice.

In October, Trudeau announced his government’s intention to introduce a minimum price – or “floor price” – for carbon pollution of $10 per tonne in 2018, increasing to $50 per tonne by 2022.

With files from