Rachel Notley and the story of Alberta’s carbon tax

Before Trudeau forced his own ‘Made in Ottawa’ carbon tax on the people of Alberta, former premier Rachel Notley (pictured) created her own homegrown cash grab. For several years, Alberta suffered under Notley’s carbon tax, a tax, like all carbon taxes, which was based on one lie after another, and, in short, was a nefarious tax grab and one that was intentionally designed to make energy less affordable for all Albertans. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Jason Franson


The Alberta election is officially underway, and early polls indicate the results will be close. Though there are several parties contesting this election, only two parties can win: the United Conservative Party (UCP), led by Premier Danielle Smith, and the Alberta NDP, led by former premier Rachel Notley.

Rachel Notley served as Premier of Alberta from 2015 – 2019. The NDP election victory in 2015 came as a shock not only to Alberta, but to the country. 

What did Notley and her NDP government accomplish during her time in office? 

Let’s start with the carbon tax. One of Notley’s first legislative moves after coming into power in May 2015 was to hoist the first carbon tax on Albertans. 

Notley forced a carbon tax on her own people well before Trudeau had announced his own carbon tax plans for Canada. Almost immediately after Justin Trudeau was sworn in as Prime Minister in the fall of 2015, a few months after Notley became Alberta premier, Notley’s new Alberta NDP government released the details of the NDP Climate Leadership Plan. In addition to phasing out coal, investing in renewable energy, and capping oil sands carbon emissions to 100 megatonnes a year, this plan also introduced a carbon tax that was set at $20 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions as of Jan. 1, 2017, and rose to $30 per tonne on Jan. 1, 2018. 

This was single-largest tax-hike in Alberta history. It was also reported as the most “significant climate policy ever put forward by a government in Canada.” 

Fast forward one year to October 2016, after Trudeau released his own carbon tax. Rachel Notley was reported as being “all smiles” after a meeting with Trudeau, as she expressed her gratitude for his leadership and “demonstrated commitment” to building the economy and moving forward aggressively on the environment. “Notley explained that her government was now “well positioned” to support Trudeau’s efforts to ramp up a tax or price on carbon pollution to $50 per tonne by 2022, up from a proposed starting price of $10 per tonne in 2018.”

For several years, Alberta suffered under Notley’s very own “Made in Alberta” carbon tax, a tax, like all carbon taxes, which was based on one lie after another, and, in short, was a nefarious tax grab and one that was intentionally designed to make energy less affordable for all Albertans.

Leading up to the 2019 provincial election, the UCP opposition accused Notley’s NDP of being dishonest with voters since they never campaigned on a carbon tax, saying “in implementing their carbon tax without a public mandate, the NDP arguably violated the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act — if not technically in law, then in spirit.” “The NDP’s carbon tax truly is the biggest lie in Alberta political history.” 

After soundly defeating the destructive Notley NDP in 2019, the new UCP government scrapped her carbon tax, only to see Trudeau’s federal carbon tax quickly forced on the province. This Trudeau carbon tax is now in place in Alberta, as well as Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick.

Since then, the Trudeau’s “Made in Ottawa” carbon tax has risen to $65 per tonne – with the most recent increase hitting Canadians this past April 1, 2023 – and will continue to rise until it reaches $170 a tonne. 

The Trudeau carbon tax has driven up the cost of fuel, food, and everyday goods and services. According to one study at $50 a tone food prices went up by 3 per cent because of the carbon tax – we are now at $65 a tonne. To date, carbon taxes imposed by the federal government account for $0.16 per litre on average for gasoline and $0.20 per litre for diesel. Together they now make up roughly 11 to 13 per cent of the total cost of fuel. That’s five times the rate of inflation. 

Albertans, and most other Canadians, continue to suffer under some sort of carbon tax regime. In Alberta, the situation is particularly outrageous, as Alberta voters soundly defeated a provincial government that forced a carbon tax on them, only to have Trudeau’s Liberals immediately force a federal version on them. (Ontario suffered a similar fate in 2018).

The terrible story of the Alberta carbon tax, followed by Trudeau’s, is one example of Notley’s legacy of inspiring and buttressing Trudeau’s anti-Alberta, and anti-Canadian, Green Agenda. 

This article first appeared on Dan McTeague’s website Canadians for Affordable Energy. Reprinted with permission from the author. 

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