A Liberal cabinet minister irked Western Canadians dearly after alleging more Liberal representation would better address their carbon tax concerns.
Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings told CTV that B.C. and the Prairie provinces should elect more Liberal ministers if they want reprieve from the carbon tax.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the doubling of the carbon rebate for rural households to 20%, and a three-year pause on charging a tax on heating oil.
Hutchings told “Question Period” host Vassy Kapelos that rural Canadians know firsthand the devastation brought upon them from climate change, from floods to wildfires.
"We know there's an issue with climate change," she said. "I just wish every party realized there was an issue with climate change."
"We're going to be there for people," added Hutchings, who applauded Trudeau’s decision to "put more money in people’s pockets" while reducing carbon emissions.
Last week, the prime minister also announced the federal government would roll out new incentives to reduce costs associated with using electric heat pumps. The pilot project in Atlantic Canada includes an upfront payment of $250 for eligible households, and a subsequent affordability program.
However, Kapelos inquired on the timing of the increased rebates amid slumping polling numbers for the federal government in a traditionally Liberal region. Hutchings replied: "this isn’t about polls; this is about people."
According to Abacus Data, Liberal support fell 6% in Atlantic Canada since the carbon tax first took effect July 1. During the same period, the Conservatives made considerable gains (11%).
When asked whether the policy would expand to outside Atlantic Canada, Hutchings said that depends on the success of the pilot project.
"That's a discussion that we'll have down the road when we know that this one is working,” she said, “but I can tell you [the] Atlantic caucus was vocal with what they've heard from their constituents."
"Perhaps they need to elect more Liberals in the Prairies so that we can have that conversation as well," the minister told CTV.
When asked if that was fair to Western Canadians, Hutchings said the rebate applies to all rural locales, although the electric heat pump proposal does not.
"[The Atlantic caucus] came [up] with these options," she said, presenting them to Trudeau and cabinet.
"We're always open to conversations to help all Canadians on the affordability issue, and especially when it is reducing the carbon footprint," continued Hutchings. "That's what we have to do for all families."