Hundreds of frustrated southern Albertans gathered at Galt Gardens in Lethbridge this weekend to protest the NDP’s new carbon tax.

“Your presence here proves that the often used quote, ‘most Albertans support the climate leadership plan,’ is ill-conceived at best and arrogant at worst,” rally organizer Davey Wiggers said to the crowd Saturday.

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    “I came to the rally out of total frustration with the NDP policies,” protester Jill Skriver said. “From the very start, they have brought in bill after bill and they have shoved it down our throat and they do not care that the majority of Albertans are against it.”

    READ MORE: Protesters call for referendum on Alberta NDP carbon tax

    On Jan. 1, a carbon levy will be imposed on all greenhouse gas emissions and will increase the price of gasoline, natural gas and propane.

    “If we have a particularly bad winter, it could mean the difference between choosing whether you pay for your groceries or whether you pay for your home heating bill,” Wiggers said.

    Many protesters at the event questioned the timing of Bill 20.

    “To tax it [carbon] is a draconian measure, especially when we’re suffering,” Paul Hinman, former Wildrose party leader, said. “This is equivalent to a cripple saying we need to put 10 pounds on your back – it is just wrong, she needs to postpone this tax.”

    The rally organizer said he isn’t opposed to reducing emissions but more public consultation is needed.

    “We’re not against renewable energy but we need to transition responsibly, smartly, slowly, carefully,” Wiggers said.

    Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said the bill was developed through consultation with energy officials, local communities and environmental groups. The goal of the bill is to curb greenhouse gas emissions and reduce Alberta’s carbon footprint.

    READ MORE: Alberta fall legislature sitting to focus on climate change plan

    A province-wide petition is calling for the bill to be put to the people in the form of a referendum.

    “I’ve been beside Rachel (Notley) in the house many times and she brought petitions about concerned Albertans on what needed to be changed and spoke very adamantly that we need to be listening to these petitions,” Hinman said. “Well I hope Rachel that you’re paying attention premier.”

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