Wildrose MLA Nathan Cooper tried to have natural gas used in commercial greenhouses exempted from the NDP’s carbon tax.
This was a smart amendment. We know that purple fuel used by farmers will be exempt from the carbon tax but what about greenhouse producers who use natural gas to heat their greenhouses earlier in the season or late into the fall? This is Alberta. We have a short growing season and the best way for greenhouse producers to offset that unfortunate fact is the use of clean burning natural gas. Cooper’s amendment sought to level the playing field between different types of agricultural producers in Alberta.
NDP MLA Thomas Dang offered the latest NDP excuse. He said natural gas is currently cheap so it’s ok to hike this huge operating expense for Alberta greenhouses.
What a remarkably stupid statement. Just because natural gas is cheap today doesn’t mean that it will always remain low nor does it mean that it’s a good idea to raise the cost of it by 50 to 75%. Alberta greenhouse operators carve out a living in a short growing season, dealing with an unforgiving Alberta climate, competing against cheap Mexican labour, longer California growing seasons and lower BC mainland producers who don’t need to use natural gas at all. This added tax will make Alberta greenhouse growers unable to keep their costs and prices low. Alberta food will have a tariff on it that food grown other places will not have.
Greenhouse operators are farmers, too. They’re a different kind of farmer but farmers none the less. They produce that locally grown, sustainable food the NDP says they like to support yet the carbon tax is a direct attack on them.
In actuality, Bill 20, the carbon tax manages to create the same two tiered results in the farming community that Bill 6 did. Some farmers are exempt from some parts of the legislation while others will not be. Bill 20 punishes all farmers, but some more than others.
It’s true, some animals are more equal.