Time to rollback NDP’s onerous energy regulations

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Appeared in the Calgary Sun, February 20, 2019
Time to rollback NDP’s onerous energy regulations

With the election of Premier Doug Ford, Ontario has embarked on a near-Trumpian crusade to cut red tape and lower tax burdens. In Alberta, Premier Rachel Notley has taken the province in the opposite direction, layering red tape on top of tax hikes.

Last year, Premier Ford scrapped Ontario’s cap-and-trade program, which would have saddled Ontario companies with costly carbon accounting and sent millions of Ontario’s dollars to California to buy carbon credits. And Ontario plans to cancel more than 750 contracts for renewable power (wind, etc.), saving the province another $790 million and easing power prices for Ontarians.

Recently, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) gave Premier Ford a Golden Scissors Award for bringing Ontario’s financial ratings back in order, going from a C+ to an A- in six months, according to the CFIB’s ranking.

CFIB credits the turnaround to Bill C-47, which changes all journeyman-to-apprentice ratios to 1:1, phases out the College of Trades (which regulates skilled trade in the province) and implements other changes that increase flexibility for business owners and employees.

Meanwhile in Alberta, our premier has layered on the taxes and regulations at a rapid pace. Since coming to office, Premier Notley has raised corporate income taxes by nearly 20 per cent, hiking it to 12 per cent from 10 per cent. The NDP also discouraged wealthier folks who might live and invest here by killing Alberta’s attractive flat income tax and giving those who earn more than $300,000 per year a 50 per cent tax hike, from 10 per cent to 15 per cent.

The NDP government has also increased regulation on our prostrate oil and gas industry. When one of Canada’s most productive sectors in history was down, it was hit with Premier Notley’s “Climate Leadership Plan,” which expanded and increased Alberta’s carbon tax to $30/tonne of emissions, and will ostensibly follow the federal plan to hit $50/tonne by 2022—if a) Premier Notley remains in office and b) gets her Trans Mountain expansion project to Pacific tidewater.

In addition to the tax hikes, Premier Notley put a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions from the oilsands, limiting emissions to 100 megatonnes, which could start to bite in the mid-2020s, threatening the viability of long-term projects and increasing the risk that investments in increased oilsands production will be seen as risky.

The Notley government also plans to phase-out coal-generated electricity by 2030, triple renewable energy to supply 30 per cent of generation by 2030, further regulate sulfur emissions from the oil and gas sector, and create a new agency to spend Alberta’s carbon tax revenues on energy efficiency programs with a very poor record of success. These are the kind of policies that drove up energy prices in Ontario and drove investment and jobs out of the province.

In Ontario, Premier Ford grabbed a big set of Golden Scissors and cut the provinces regulations and punitive taxes. In Alberta, Premier Notley talks up oil and gas while diligently orbiting the industry, red-taping it into a giant cocoon of regulations and taxes. Clearly, in the interest of Albertans, the premier should stop wrapping and start cutting.

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