Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she's expecting to have some "interesting conversations" with Ontario premier-designate Doug Ford about climate change policies.
Notley, who leads an NDP government in Alberta, made the comments after reporters asked her about the Ontario Progressive Conservative leader's announcement that he would end his own province's joint cap-and-trade carbon market with Quebec and California.
"I think there’s going to be some interesting conversations on the matter," Notley said after announcing a "minor shuffle" of her cabinet in Edmonton on Monday.
The shuffle saw Calgary-Currie MLA Brian Malkinson take charge of the Service Alberta portfolio and Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee also take on the status of women file.
She said her cabinet was interested in seeing how the conversations progress between the Ontario and federal government about a nation-wide carbon price.
Premier Scott Moe's Saskatchewan and Ford's Ontario have said they will take Ottawa to court over this federal plan.
Notley was skeptical about their chances, noting that the outcome of a legal challenge against Ottawa's plans would be "very clear in the courts" and one she believes would not be in either Ontario or Saskatchewan's favour.
"What Ontario is doing is opening the door for Ottawa to step in," she said, referencing how the federal government has said it will step in with climate change policies in provinces that don't have them. "(Ontario) is walking away from a level of agency and authority that they previously had."
Constitutional and environmental law experts have agreed with Notley's position in support of the federal plan to impose a nation-wide price on carbon. The Alberta premier added that her own government was committed to moving forward with its own climate change policies. These include a cap on pollution from the oilsands sector as well as a tax on all transportation and heating fuels. Alberta has not joined the Quebec and California market.
"We (were working on) our climate change plan prior to federal government being elected," she said. "This is not a thing that happened to us, we made a decision that was long overdue in the province of Alberta that we needed to take responsible careful action to combat climate change and that’s what we’re doing."
Ford to provide 'clear rules' to wind down cap and trade
In a statement sent to National Observer, spokesman Jeff Silverstein said that Doug Ford and his party "were elected on a strong mandate from the people of Ontario to scrap the carbon tax and put more money in people's pockets."
"As soon as we form government, we will provide clear rules to wind down the cap-and-trade scheme in a responsible manner," said Silverstein. "We believe businesses across the province will be happy they don't have to pay this tax anymore."
On Friday, Ford said his government is "going to stop the government from gouging the people." He repeated his campaign promise to cut 10 cents a litre off the price Ontario drivers pay at the pump.
Quebec and California responded immediately by announcing they would shut Ontario out of their joint cap-and-trade market.
"We take note of the decision made by the new Ontario government," Isabelle Melançon, Quebec minister of sustainable development, environment and the fight against climate change, said in a press release. "The carbon market remains the best way for us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while generating economic growth."
Ontario doesn't have a carbon tax at the moment but would have one imposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government once the province abandons the cap and trade market. The Trudeau government has said it will intervene and ensure that polluters are paying a minimum price for their carbon emissions, if the provinces fail to do so.
"Ontario businesses have invested almost $3 billion in a market that is now closed to them," Trudeau's principal secretary Gerald Butts wrote on Twitter on Monday.
Melançon added that "the economy and the environment go hand in hand."
"Governments do not have to choose between the economy on the one hand and environmental protection and the fight against climate change on the other," she said. "You have to do both at the same time. This is what allows us to achieve the carbon market. I have full confidence in its durability."
She also noted that Quebec was pursuing discussions with France about finding ways to bring their trading system closer to the existing market in Europe.
On Monday, Notley restated her focus on ensuring the stability of Alberta's energy sector, stating that a climate change policy that included a carbon price plan was "the right thing to do to position Alberta to the future."
Editor's note: This article was updated at 2:40 p.m. ET on June 18, 2018, with additional comments from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. It was updated again at 5:15 p.m. ET with comments from Doug Ford's office and Gerald Butts, principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.