Opposition parties pass motion opposing carbon tax, demand Trudeau meets with premiers

With support from the New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois, the Conservative Party passed a non-binding motion 173 to 150, demanding that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discuss with premiers the recent carbon tax hike within five weeks.

Opposition parties pass motion opposing carbon tax, demand Trudeau meets with premiers
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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The Official Opposition tabled a motion compelling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with premiers over the carbon tax.

The April Fools tax hike rose from $65 to $80 per tonne, with annual $15 hikes expected until $170 per tonne in 2030.

“We’re trying hard and want to address the 23% increase on the carbon tax and they have to put it on hold,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters. 

“I've been in constant communication on a daily basis with a number of premiers,” he said. “We aren't happy about it to say the least, but he needs to sit down with us on many issues."

“He hasn't sat down with all the premiers in … years.”

Trudeau last held a roundtable with the premiers on the carbon tax in 2016.

The non-binding Conservative motion, which passed 173 to 150 Wednesday evening, urged Trudeau to discuss the 23% carbon tax increase with premiers by mid-May. 

Should Trudeau comply, the New Democrats, Bloc Québécois, and Tories hope to negotiate an opt-out clause for provinces looking to “pursue other reasonable ideas to lower emissions.” They believe the federal carbon tax is not the "be-all, end-all" of climate policy.

"Trudeau has a responsibility to listen to Canada's premiers about the misery his carbon tax is causing Canadians," said the Conservative Party, following the vote. 

"In this meeting, he must also allow provinces to opt out of the federal carbon tax and pursue other responsible ideas for lowering emissions without taxes," reads their statement.

The Official Opposition contends the carbon tax makes life less affordable for Canadians, while the federal government argues the opposite. It puts more money in their pockets, they claim. 

According to a 2023 budget office report, households would see a net loss from $311 to $911 this year after rebates are issued. It amounts to 17.6 cents per liter of gas.

The New Democrats, who consistently prop up the Liberal Party, appear to have turned a corner by rejecting the government narrative.

"We need to bring Canadians together to fight the climate emergency, to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, and we need a government that will support them," said NDP environment critic Laurel Collins, who accused the Liberals of turning the climate into a political wedge issue.

Meanwhile, Trudeau believes his provincial counterparts are trying to "make political hay" out of his program. He has consistently rejected calls for a meeting let alone scrapping the tax.

In spite of the letters from Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Newfoundland and Labrador, Canadians appear to be at their wits end. At nearly 15 interprovincial border crossings, thousands of Canadians continue to protest the policy.

Premiers of every political stripe oppose further carbon tax hikes.

“This isn't the first time they've raised their carbon tax, but it couldn't come at a worse time,” claimed Ford. 

Trudeau has been under extensive pressure as of late for ignoring the plights of Canadians over the climate policy.

Several provinces called for Ottawa to pause the tax on all forms of home heating. For months, Trudeau has refused to extend the carve outs beyond Atlantic Canada.

In response, Saskatchewan ceased collecting the carbon tax on home-heating natural gas despite repeated threats from the federal government.

Ford believes Trudeau will get the boot from voters next year should he continue to hike the carbon tax.

“This carbon tax has to go, or, in a year and a half, the prime minister is going. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

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