Last month, the Government of Alberta publicly responded to the federal government’s framework on the oil and gas emissions cap. The response from Premier Smith and her government was yet another step in their effort to battle against desperately needed climate policies in Canada.

Amongst other things, Alberta’s response contained wild assertions about the damage that emissions cap could do to the Canadian economy. The kicker, however, is that Premier Smith is refusing to release the report she used to develop her assertions.

Premier Smith. Photo by Alberta Newsroom via Flickr Creative Commons

Climate change continues to devastate lives in Canada. In Alberta, wildfires have already started to burn. Worse yet, Albertans are also expected to experience a devastating drought this year. Climate change is causing real damage, so the secrecy around Alberta’s claim that the emissions cap would cause major economic loss raises questions on the legitimacy and transparency of that claim.

What is not in question is that oil and gas emissions continue to increase in Canada, while damaging our health, environment and climate. The oil and gas emissions cap would be a key tool in addressing out of control oil and gas pollution in Canada. On top of that, the International Energy Agency has stated that to keep the rise in global temperatures to no more than 1.5C, emissions from the oil and gas industry have to decline by 60 per cent from 2023 levels, by 2030.

Premier Smith seems to have made it her mission to fight tooth and nail against Canada’s oil and gas emissions cap, as well as other essential climate policies. Premier Smith continues to ignore the scientific evidence of the impact of climate change on the province of Alberta and is instead pandering to the interests of the province’s polluting oil and gas industry.

Over the past year, Premier Smith imposed a moratorium on renewable energy, spent $8 million on a misinformation campaign about clean electricity regulations, and went to COP28 to advance the oil and gas agenda. Her tactics have been to fearmonger and spread misinformation, not only to the people in Alberta, but to the rest of the country, about the oil and gas emissions cap as well as other climate policies.

Aerial view of A large oil refinery along the Athabasca River in Alberta's Oilsands, showing multiple smoke stacks.
A large oil refinery along the Athabasca River in Alberta’s Oilsands. Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Now, the emissions cap consultation period was open to everyone and Premier Smith was well within her rights to respond. However, it is very curious that she would refuse to release the report that was the basis of her response. The lack of transparency surrounding the Premier’s claims about the emission cap’s negative economic impacts raises concerns about the true motivations behind her response. Why is this report being kept under wraps? What is Premier Smith hiding from the public?

Could it be that Premier Smith and her government are worried that their claims of devastating economic loss would not hold up to scrutiny? Maybe it is just another fear mongering tactic to further serve the interests of the oil and gas industry? For now, all we can do is speculate.

Premier Smith’s use of a non-public report on the economic impacts of the emissions cap in Alberta raises serious questions about the legitimacy of her claims. Without access to the full facts, people in Alberta and throughout Canada are left in the dark about the true motivations behind her government’s actions.

If Premier Smith truly believes that the emissions cap would lead to such a large economic loss in Canada, she should be forthcoming with the report’s findings and engage the wider public in an open and honest dialogue. Until then, the question remains: what is Premier Smith hiding?