Conservative motion to exempt carbon tax from all home heating rejected in House of Commons

Poilievre accused the Liberals of forming a new ‘carbon tax coalition’ with the Bloc ‘to divide our country’

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OTTAWA — Conservatives and New Democrats sided with most of the country’s premiers on Monday in voting for a motion calling on the federal government to extend the carbon tax exemption to all forms of home heating.

The non-binding motion ultimately failed to pass, with Liberals and the Bloc Québécois voting against it. But it sent a clear signal that the NDP are protesting against the Liberals’ single carve-out for home heating oil, which applies mostly in Eastern Canada.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and ministers Chrystia Freeland and Jonathan Wilkinson among others, have already said there would be no more exemptions. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault recently told Radio-Canada it would not happen as long as he is in his role.

Liberal MP Ken McDonald, who has sided with the Conservatives twice already in calling to remove the carbon tax, was heckled loudly as he stood with his party in voting against the motion.

After the vote, Conservatives rose on a point of order to say that McDonald had been giving them the middle finger during his vote, but the MP alleged that he was scratching the side of his face with two fingers.

In the end, the motion was rejected 135-186.

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Reacting after the vote, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre accused the Liberals of forming a new “carbon tax coalition” with the Bloc Québécois “to divide our country.”

“Given that the NDP was forced to flip-flop on Trudeau’s plan to quadruple the tax, he had to find a new partner to keep them in power and avoid this non-confidence vote from passing. And who was there to save him? The separatists,” Poilievre told reporters.

“He’s now just signed on with the separatists to divide Canadians into two separate classes: those who will have to pay carbon tax on their home heat, and a small minority who will get a pause from the pain.”

In a statement, Guilbeault said that record wildfires, floods and hurricanes cost Canadians more and more every year.

“We can’t go back to the Stone Age,” he said. “All parties in the House of Commons need to show leadership to fight climate change while supporting Canadians with affordability challenges.”

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said his party voted the way it did not to support the Conservatives, but mostly to reject the Liberals’ “divisive” approach.

“We think it’s unfair,” Singh told reporters on Monday. “It pits region against region against each other and so we’re voting to reject the Liberals’ divisive plan. We do believe in fighting the climate crisis, unlike the Conservatives.”

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May already made it clear before the vote that her party of two would be voting against the motion, and accused the NDP of falling into a “trap” by supporting it.

“There’s no denying that the Liberals have severely damaged their climate credibility,” said May. “But by pandering to climate tax detractors instead of aiding those who needed financial help, the NDP is falling into a huge trap while throwing the climate out the window.”

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said he was surprised to see the NDP’s support for the Liberals “wither” on this file and side with the Conservatives against the carbon tax.

Singh admitted he is “always very uncomfortable” to be “seen in any way voting alongside” the Conservatives, given that they have not presented a plan to tackle climate change, and that is why he said New Democrats would be presenting a plan of their own on Tuesday.

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The NDP will be calling on the government to take the GST off of all forms of home heating, make heat pumps more accessible for middle and low-income Canadians and to pay for these changes by putting in place a tax on the profits of big oil and gas companies.

Meanwhile, in Halifax, all of Canada’s premiers, except Quebec Premier François Legault, presented a unified front in calling on the federal government to exempt the carbon tax on all forms of home heating.

“Premiers are unanimous in calling on the Prime Minister to ensure that federal policies and programs are delivered in a fair and equitable way to all Canadians, particularly in light of the affordability challenges being faced across the country,” they said in a joint statement.

The premiers agreed that fighting climate change is important, but did not agree on whether or not the price on carbon was the right way to do that.

“The carbon tax is not a silver bullet when it comes to climate change,” said Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew. “Rather, it seems like it’s going to be the hard work of many separate individual initiatives that is going to move the ball forward in terms of a climate-friendly future.”

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His British Columbia counterpart, David Eby, said the carbon tax for his province has been “an effective mechanism to reduce carbon pollution” since it came into force in 2017.

“Our emissions have gone down despite a dramatic increase in population and since the inception of the carbon tax,” he said.

Eby said that even though different jurisdictions have different perspectives on how to tackle climate change, their discussion was grounded in shared concerns around affordability and for “fair treatment for all Canadians.”

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