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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney cancelled a celebratory event at an Esso gas station on Thursday to mark the repeal of the province's carbon tax, due to wildfires that have been raging for days in the Western Canadian province.
“As of today, the NDP carbon tax in Alberta is gone,” Kenney announced on Twitter Thursday morning.
About 5,000 people were evacuated more than a week earlier from the city of High Level and surrounding areas, in the northern part of the province, because of wildfires. The emergency has plunged large parts of Western Canada, including British Columbia, under a toxic smoky haze.
A price on carbon is designed to dissuade the burning of fossil fuels that contribute to the global climate emergency, which is expected to increase the frequency and severity of wildfires in the coming years and decades.
Cabinet was briefed by @AlbertaWildfire and @AB_EmergAlert on the Northern #ABFire.— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) May 30, 2019
2300 personnel, 200 helicopters, 150 pieces of heavy equipment, and 27 air tankers are deployed. pic.twitter.com/0IEmq1FJ6z
My heart goes out to the families in Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement who have lost their homes. Officials are working around the clock to fight these wildfires. #ableg— Rachel Notley (@RachelNotley) May 30, 2019
Kenney has made the cancellation of the carbon tax and other policies meant to address climate change a top priority of his government, which was elected with a strong majority in the oil-rich province's April 16 general election.
Legislation to cancel the carbon tax was the first law Kenney's government introduced in the Alberta legislature after the election. He had scheduled the celebratory event at the gas station in Edmonton later in the day, but then decided that it might not be a good idea.
*This event has been cancelled so the premier can receive an internal, real-time briefing on the status of Alberta’s wildfires," the government said in a statement.
Today has been pic.twitter.com/eGYlZ9Mx7I— Mari Sasano (@marisasano) May 30, 2019
This.— George Soule (@G_Soule) May 30, 2019
This shows how the #UCP insiders put ideology and petty politics ahead of Albertans.
Her mind could clearly not be further from the families who have been chased from their homes by the actual 🔥.
She has deleted this tweet but there is still no apology. #ableg #cdnpoli https://t.co/VZw9YGrrW8
In its most recent update, Alberta says there are now 29 wildfires burning in the province, including 10 that are out of control. Environment Canada issued a “moderate risk” air quality warning for Edmonton and other communities.
The area covered by wildfires is now larger than 1,300 square kilometres, but the province has started to make emergency funds available for food and other expenses to homeowners who have been forced to flee their homes.
In a May 26 video posted to Twitter, Kenney said leaders near High Level were “optimistic” about the wildfires. “Everyone is working together extremely well,” he said, and thanked firefighters for their work. He also promised financial support to those forced to evacuate due to the fires.
“We’re hoping and praying for the best tonight,” he said.