A Tory bill to exempt farm fuel from the carbon tax continues to face delays in the senate as Conservative politicians nationwide grow increasingly impatient.
Introduced in February 2022 by MP Ben Lobb, Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, would exempt farmers from paying a carbon tax on natural gas and propane when used for irrigation, grain drying, and heating barns.
According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), Senator Pierre Dalphond stalled the legislation on October 18 — delaying federal bids to ease food prices for Canadians amid the ongoing inflation crisis.
Liberal-appointed senator, Lucie Moncion, is also delaying the bill after opposing an eight-year carbon tax reprieve on the use of propane and natural gas for agricultural purposes. She claimed the bill, in its current form, could "incentivize inaction" on 'climate change.'
"While some colleagues have determined this legislation is necessary to present circumstances, I think we can all agree that we do not know whether such a carve-out will be necessary eight years from now," added Moncion.
The federal Conservatives, alongside the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan are calling on Canadians to "pressure" the Liberal government into passing Bill C-234, which already passed the Commons on March 29 by a vote of 176-146.
Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said Tuesday his government doesn’t support the bill and would rather help farmers buy more energy-efficient equipment to reduce their reliance on natural gas and propane.
Except for three Liberal MPs, all other Liberals opposed the tax relief.
"We can't have more taxes on our food when two million people are already forced to food banks and Canadians are forced to downgrade their diets," Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre said during a November 13 press conference.
He specifically blamed the carbon tax for hiking food costs on "the farmer who grows the food, the trucker who ships the food, and you who buy the food," while lauding the legislation as "a common-sense [...] compassionate solution."
Two Western Canadian premiers also weighed in on the delays, penning strongly worded letters to the Senate, urging them to pass Bill C-234 with haste.
"Opposition members in the House of Commons recently voted together to pass Bill C-234, which would remove the carbon tax on farm activities like grain drying and heating and cooling barns and greenhouses. This would lower the cost of food production and lower prices in Canadian grocery stores," penned Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe in a letter Tuesday to the Senate.
He called out the senate's "unacceptable" delays in passing Bill C-234, stating: "Food is not a luxury. It is a necessity."
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith also demanded the Senate "urgently pass" the bill, which faces one final vote in the before it either dies or becomes law.
The Senate is scheduled to consider Bill C-234 next week. If the bill passes as is, it becomes law. But if senators make any changes, the bill will have to go back to the Commons for another vote. Notably. a previous version of the bill also passed the Commons but died in the Senate.
In her letter published Wednesday, Smith said its passing would reduce food costs for Canadians by saving farmers close to $1 billion by 2030.
"Farmers across our country are struggling to deal with the impact of the carbon tax on their activities," she wrote. "This pain is also being felt by ordinary Canadians, with out-of-control food price inflation forcing Canadians to skip meals or choose between rent or groceries."
“Food is not a luxury – it is a basic necessity,” reiterated Smith.
Paula Simons, an independent, Liberal-appointed senator from Alberta, said her support for relief extends only to a narrowed exemption for grain drying, citing 'climate change.'
"Climate change isn’t something that might happen one day in the future; it's happening right here, right now and I do believe, in general, that carbon taxes are a good way to send a price signal to change behavior to deal with climate change,” she claimed.
"Nobody wants to pay more, but that’s the point of the carbon tax, and if we are serious about climate change, we have to make hard decisions about how we live. We can’t just assume somebody else, someplace else, will make the sacrifice."
When asked what she expects will unfold next week, Simons said a 'long process' could await the Senate, and potentially the Commons.
"That’s really the tension in the Senate right now," she said. "Do we take the time to make amendments that might make the bill better? Or do we pass the bill as is, which would guarantee that it becomes law?"