'The adults in the room': NDP will back Conservative motion to exempt carbon tax from all home heating

The Conservatives have been pushing the NDP to reveal their intentions for days, arguing that many of their MPs represent remote communities with hefty home heating bills

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OTTAWA — New Democrats will be supporting Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre’s motion to extend the temporary pause on the federal price on carbon to all forms of home heating, NDP House leader Peter Julian said Thursday.

“Given the panicked reaction from the Liberals, seemingly tied to their polling standing in Atlantic Canada, given that the Conservatives for once have actually offered a motion that doesn’t deny climate change, we will be supporting that motion,” said Julian.

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Poilievre’s motion reads as follows: “That, given that the government has announced a “temporary, three-year pause” to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.”

The NDP attempted to amend the original motion put forward on Thursday to slash the GST from all forms of home heating but it did not receive the Conservatives’ approval.

“This is an issue of being the adults in the room,” said Julian. “For once the Conservatives haven’t gone over the top with their motions — they generally tend to do that. And they’ve added they’ve put something that is straight up. We’re going to support that.”

The Conservatives have been pushing the NDP to reveal their intentions for two days, arguing that many of their MPs represent remote communities who also have hefty home heating bills.

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“The NDP leader says he disagrees with the dual class citizenship approach of the prime minister on the carbon tax. I’m giving him a chance to prove it,” said Poilievre while speaking on his motion in a speech in the House of Commons on Thursday,

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“Everyday people in Timmins, in Kapuskasing, in Smithers, British Columbia, and in countless other NDP communities will be watching on Monday to find out whether the NDP leader votes for them or the prime minister,” he added.

NDP MP Charlie Angus was critical of the Conservatives’ move, saying that the motion was simply another way of pitting region against region.

“They know that if we just take the carbon tax off, it’s not going to mean anything for people in British Columbia, who are still paying heating bills. They’re not covered by the carbon tax because they’re under cap and trade. Neither is Quebec,” he said.

But his colleague Taylor Bachrach insisted on the importance of fairness for all Canadians, something that has also been mentioned by B.C. premier David Eby earlier this week.

“I think it is eminently reasonable for people in other provinces and other parts of this country who have been overlooked by this government when it comes to the affordability of home heating to want the same,” said Bachrach.

Critics have been fusing ever since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a temporary pause for home heating oil flanked with his Atlantic caucus last week.

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Liberal MPs have since been trying to reframe the issue as an affordability issue, arguing that home heating oil is two to four times more expensive than natural gas, but also insisting on the necessity to transition rapidly to heat pumps for the good of the planet.

But New Democrats do not buy those arguments. “I think most Canadians see this quite clearly for what it is, which is a cynical attempt by a flailing government to save its political hide in the only part of rural Canada, where it has any,” said Bachrach.

Julian said he thinks the exemption tends to pit “one region against another, one type of heating against another.”

“In fact, it strangely seems to incentivize people from going to heating oil, which, of course, creates a bigger carbon footprint. So it’s not a smart decision. It wasn’t a well thought-out decision. It tends to disadvantage many people,” he said.

“I think what the NDP has done in this Parliament is we continue to be the adults in the room. This decision has been made. That’s a bad one. How do we then make it equitable so that everybody can afford to heat their homes this winter?”

It seems unlikely that the Bloc Quebecois will be voting for the Conservative motion, since it does not apply to Quebec. As for the Liberals, it was still unclear on Thursday if anyone would be voting against their own party.

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