The Bloc Québécois and NDP played a round of musical chairs Monday to defeat a Conservative motion on expanding carbon tax relief.
Despite shoring up support from the NDP, Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet voted against further reprieve for natural gas. Alongside the Liberals, they defeated the motion handedly by a vote of 186 to 135.
The feds have since ruled out carbon tax carve-outs, citing an added cost for natural gas, which produces more greenhouse gas emissions than heating oil.
"I'm always reluctant to vote alongside the Conservatives in any way," Singh clarified Monday. "On this vote specifically, it is very clear that this is a vote to reject the divisive approach of the Liberals and I do reject their approach."
In October, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a three-year tax freeze for oil used to heat residential buildings, as well as the doubling of the rural reprieve. He also expanded low-income grants for installing electric heat pumps in the Maritimes.
Following the announcement, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre accused Trudeau of "regional favouritism" amid sluggish poll numbers in Atlantic Canada. The reprieve preceded his campaign pitstop in rural Nova Scotia to "axe the tax."
"After plummeting in the polls, a flailing, desperate Trudeau is now flipping and flopping on the carbon tax as I am holding a gigantic axe the tax rally in a Liberal-held Atlantic riding," Poilievre wrote on X. "He is admitting he’s not worth the cost."
Consecutive polls over the summer pegged the Conservatives ahead in a region typically considered a Liberal stronghold. According to Abacus Data, Liberal support fell 6% since the carbon tax first took effect July 1. During the same period, the Conservatives made considerable gains (11%).
The Liberals dismissed the allegations, claiming three in four heating oil furnaces are located outside that region.
"The government is hoping that taxpayers in Atlantic Canada can be bought off by temporarily taking the carbon tax off home heating oil," said Jay Goldberg, interim Atlantic director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF). "But taxpayers are smarter than Trudeau’s brain trust thinks. They can spot a gimmick when they see one."
In July, New Brunswick MP Wayne Long informed Trudeau his rural riding felt added pressure from the carbon tax amid tightening household purse strings. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), the carbon tax will cost the average Atlantic household between $347 and $465 this year, after carbon rebates. By 2030, those numbers will jump to between $1,316 and $1,521.
The PBO countered Trudeau's claim last March 14 that a Nova Scotia family of four would receive $272 carbon rebates every three months. "That's over $1,000 a year and more than makes up for the extra costs because of the carbon price," he told reporters.
Though a proponent of the tax, Long argued Ottawa needs to communicate their vision to Atlantic Canada better. "It can be a problem of communication or perception, but we've got a problem," he said, urging a prompt response from the party.
At the time, Poilievre shored up regional support. "I don't like it," said Long. "We need to respond."
Continued inaction prompted Newfoundland and Labrador MP Ken McDonald to break rank with his party last month, supporting a separate Conservative motion to scrap the carbon tax for his rural voter base. That failed too by a vote of 209 to 119.
"I told him [Trudeau] exactly as it is," said McDonald. "We're punishing the rural areas of our country and the most vulnerable people in our society."