OTTAWA — The best way to get rid of the carbon tax is not to elect more Liberal MPs outside of Atlantic Canada, as it was suggested by a Liberal Minister this past weekend, but to elect a strong Conservative government, Pierre Poilievre said Monday.
The Conservative leader was reacting to Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings’ comments made on CTV’s Question Period on Sunday, where she said that Western and Prairie provinces should vote Liberal if they want to secure some extra carve-outs in the federal carbon pricing policy.
“She’s got it exactly wrong,” Poilievre said during Monday’s question period. “What they need to do is elect a common sense Conservative government that will axe the tax entirely.”
Government House leader Karina Gould shot back, saying that as a resident of Ontario, she remembered full well former Ontario premier Mike Harris’ “Common Sense Revolution” and how it had an impact on education, health care and other public services in the province.
“We know as Canadians what happens when you elect ‘common sense’ Conservatives: they gut programs, they hurt Canadians and they’re certainly not there when it comes to fighting climate change or supporting Canadians,” said Gould.
Poilievre said that Trudeau’s announcement last week came just moments before he was about to hold an “Axe The Tax” rally in Nova Scotia, and wondered if he should hold other rallies in every Liberal riding to make sure more carbon tax exemptions see the light of day.
Conservatives spent the entire question period asking questions about the Liberals’ new carbon tax exemption on home heating oil, and asking why Liberal MPs from other provinces had failed to secure similar exemptions for other methods of home heating, like natural gas.
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson pointed out multiple times that the three-year exemption on home heating oil applies all across the country. But fuel is mainly used to heat homes in Atlantic Canada, which makes it more targeted to the region.
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Nonetheless, the Opposition continued to mock the Liberals for partly reversing course on one of their signature climate policies, given that the party is sinking in the polls in the area.
“The saying goes, ‘desperate people do desperate things,’ and after eight years this is exactly what we saw from the prime minister last week with his last minute desperate announcement on the carbon tax,” said Conservative MP Eric Duncan.
“It begs the question just how ineffective and out of touch are the Liberal MPs in Nickel Belt, Sudbury, North Bay and Thunder Bay that they couldn’t get the same deal back home. Winters are pretty cold in Northern Ontario too, and they should be treated the same as everybody else.”
Deputy Conservative leader Melissa Lantsman attempted to ask a question directly to Hutchings, who was in the House of Commons, but did not speak.
“My neighbours in the GTA have a question … for the minister. They have 24 Liberal MPs in Toronto, 11 in Peel and seven in York. 10 of them are cabinet ministers. If this is the largest concentration of Liberal ridings in Canada, then why are they still paying a carbon tax?”
Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant took a different approach; she chose to drive home her point with a reference from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”
“This prime minister once said a Canadian is a Canadian is Canadian. After eight long years, now, he says some Canadians are more equal than other Canadians,” she said.
Even NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh took digs at the government for making an announcement that would mostly benefit Canadians “where Liberals need to save their seats.”
“All Canadians need some relief when it comes to the cost of home heating. That’s why New Democrats propose taking the GST off of all home heating,” he said. “When will Liberals stop playing games and bring in relief for all Canadians this cold winter?”
NDP MP Heather McPherson also concluded her own question on rising grocery prices, which the New Democrats attribute to “corporate greed,” by throwing shade at the Liberal government.
“Why will the Liberals not tackle corporate greed so that students and workers could afford to eat, or does the government only believe Canadians who vote for them deserve to eat?”
The Trudeau government has been criticized from all sides since last week’s announcement, with Conservative premiers pushing to eliminate the carbon tax altogether and environmentalists saying that the move is undermining the federal price on carbon.
On Monday, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault did not directly speak about the new exemption on carbon pricing in the House, but rather praised the government’s record on greenhouse gas reduction levels and electric vehicle sales.
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