In my Nov. 1 column, I discussed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's announcement regarding a temporary, three-year pause to the federal price on pollution (fuel charge) on deliveries of heating oil in all jurisdictions where the federal fuel charge is in effect.
I also referenced comments by Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings, responding to criticism that the change largely favoured Atlantic Canada (as the majority of those who rely on heating oil live in Atlantic Canada), while other heating choices did not receive the same exemption.
“I can tell you that the Atlantic Caucus was vocal about what they've heard from their constituents, and perhaps they need to elect more Liberals in the Prairies so that we can have that conversation as well,” she said.
In response, I received significant disagreement regarding Trudeau's handling of this policy. Many pointed out the apparent unfairness of exempting some Canadians who heat with fossil fuels from paying the federal carbon tax (where applicable), while not providing the same financial relief to others.
A similar debate is currently taking place in British Columbia, where a provincial carbon tax is in place. The official Opposition (BC United) and (other) opposition parties are now advocating for carbon tax relief for affordability reasons—however, the NDP government, which initially opposed the carbon tax in B.C. when it was in opposition, has refused to provide such relief thus far.
In response (to the federal move), Pierre Poilievre, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, introduced a motion requesting the government extend the carbon tax exemption granted to home heating oil to all other forms of home heating in federal carbon tax jurisdictions. Surprisingly, the federal NDP supported the motion from the Conservatives.
However, the Liberals, with the (support) of the Bloc Quebecois, voted against this “common-sense” policy, which would have provided equal financial relief to all Canadians in areas where the federal carbon tax applies.
As an opposition Member of Parliament representing many residents who use natural gas and propane for heating, it is incredibly frustrating to see the government persistently penalize those who rely on these fuels, even though they burn cleaner than home heating oil.
Last week, Jerry DeMarco, the federal commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, released a report indicating the federal government is on track to fail in its goal of reducing carbon emissions by at least 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. In other words, despite causing energy poverty for many Canadians who rely on propane and natural gas for heating (but not home heating oil), its climate plan is not delivering on its promises, as many Liberals claimed it would.
The report further stated, "Canada is the only G-7 country that has not achieved any emissions reductions since 1990."
This indicates that other G-7 countries are performing better than Canada. This is especially significant considering our largest trading partner, the United States, does not have a carbon tax and has outperformed Canada in reducing emissions in recent years.
The response to the report from the federal government, as reported by CBC, was that the commissioner was correct. “There is still work to be done to meet our ambitious but achievable 2030 goal of at least 40 percent emission reductions."
Trudeau has stated only home heating oil will receive a carbon tax break in regions where the federal carbon tax applies. Those who heat with gas or propane will not receive the same tax break and will face increasing carbon tax rates.
This week's question is:
Do you think the prime minister made a mistake by not evenly and fairly applying the carbon tax break on home heating to all Canadians in federal carbon tax jurisdictions? Why or why not?
You can reach me at [email protected] or by calling toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.