The Conservatives want to make carbon pricing the “ballot box issue” in the next election, banking on Canadians’ concerns about the cost of living and seeing a chink in the Liberals’ armor when it comes to fighting the changes climatic
“An election on the carbon tax,” Leader Pierre Poilievre proposed Wednesday morning in a speech to his caucus in Ottawa.
Poilievre also said on Wednesday that he intended to table a motion in the Commons for the government to extend the exemption to all home heating modes until the next election. And he expects that during this election Canadians will be asked to decide whether they want federal fuel prices reinstated.
“I want to make a deal with him,” Poilievre said of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. “We all know that we will not agree on the carbon tax: he wants to increase it, I want to eliminate it, we all know that. We agree on that. »
The Liberals announced last week that the government would freeze federal home heating diesel prices for three years, to give Canadians who use the fuel more time and money to replace it with an electric heat pump.
The Liberal government is also doubling the amount of additional rebate paid to rural Canadians, recognizing that they have fewer options to reduce their fossil fuel consumption. Ottawa is finally expanding a program that helps Canadians buy a heat pump.
The announcement was not well received, particularly in Western Canada, where most households use natural gas to heat their homes and therefore will not benefit from the depreciation tied to fuel oil alone.
The Liberals argue that this decision takes into account the current price of home heating oil relative to other fuels, and also takes into account the people most likely to use it.
“Diesel for home heating costs more than other forms of heating, and low-income Canadians in rural areas of the country who need the most support use oil disproportionately for home heating,” he said. Prime Minister Trudeau explained on Wednesday.
Minister’s ‘unfortunate’ comments
The Liberals also now point out that while a larger proportion of Canadians in the Atlantic provinces rely on heating oil for heating, only a quarter of household oil users live in that region of the country; they argue that 40% live in Quebec. 20% in Ontario and 10% in Western Canada.
However, that argument was undermined Sunday when Rural Economic Development Minister and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency minister Gudie Hutchings suggested the decision was in response to pressure from a powerful Liberal caucus of the Atlantic provinces.
In an interview on CTV’s public affairs program “Question Period,” Minister Hutchings suggested that if western Canadians wanted more influence in Ottawa, they should elect more Liberal MPs.
Nova Scotia Liberal MP Kody Blois called Hutchings’ comments “unfortunate.” He said Wednesday that those comments wrongly suggest the suspension benefits Atlantic Canada more, while three-quarters of a million Canadians outside that region use diesel for home heating.
But the Conservative leader seized on the minister’s remarks to show that the Liberals are using carbon pricing as a punitive measure, not a measure to fight climate change.
The Conservative leader accused Mr. Trudeau last Thursday backtracked on this issue and admitted, partially suspending it, that this federal measure was costly for Canadians, who are struggling with the rising cost of living.
Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, appears eager to take on Mr. Poilievre in the fight against climate change.
“I think Canadians are deeply concerned about the need to continue to fight climate change in a way that makes life more affordable,” the Liberal leader said Wednesday morning.
“This is what we are doing and it is absolutely something that I will continue to defend unequivocally, while Mr. Poilievre has no plan to combat climate change and therefore no plan for the economy.”
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