Conservative premiers are lying about carbon pricing: Trudeau

Conservative premiers are lying about carbon pricing: Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a speaker during an announcement in Vancouver, Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says conservative politicians across Canada, including premiers, are lying to Canadians about the carbon price.

Trudeau’s government is buckling as attacks mount against carbon pricing and voters increasingly side with politicians who say the policy is making their lives less affordable.

Most premiers and the federal Conservatives are pushing the Liberals to at least cancel a scheduled increase of the carbon price on April 1.

Trudeau says those politicians are failing to acknowledge and inform Canadians about carbon-price rebates meant to offset consumers’ costs.

He is accusing Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre of blocking legislation that would double the rebate top-up for rural Canadians.

His comments at a press conference in Vancouver come as several premiers are bringing their anti-carbon price pleas to a House of Commons committee this week.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told the House of Commons operations committee earlier Wednesday that he believes in climate change and that emissions need to go down.

But Moe said pricing pollution is not the way to do it.

“The goal is not for the big polluters to pay, the goal is for them to emit less,” he said, bristling a little during an exchange with NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice.

“How is it we shouldn’t make big polluters pay?” Boulerice demanded, accusing Moe of believing that “giant vacuum cleaners” will suck emissions out of the sky to solve climate change.

The antagonistic nature of the debate was on full display at the committee, which spent almost as much time arguing about whether Moe should have been there at all as it did hearing what he had to say.

Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois MPs accused the Conservatives, who chair the committee, of circumventing other members and inviting Moe to speak without any consultation.

MPs from the three parties, which all endorse carbon pricing, pushed Moe to explain what he would do to cut emissions.

Trudeau wrote a letter to premiers Tuesday suggesting that if they dislike the federal carbon pricing policy so much, they are welcome to produce their own systems to achieve the same results.

Moe said Saskatchewan’s industry and farmers have lowered their emissions and are displacing products overseas that have a higher carbon footprint.

“We are not climate laggards,” Moe said.

He insisted the carbon price makes it harder for families and businesses to lower their emissions.

Ontario Liberal MP Francis Drouin challenged Moe on why he hasn’t cut taxes he is in control of if he is so concerned about the cost of living.

Saskatchewan already exempts natural gas used for heat from the provincial sales tax.

In January, Moe also stopped the province’s collection of the carbon price on natural gas used for heat, in retaliation for the federal decision to temporarily exempt heating oil from the policy.

About 80 per cent of Saskatchewan households use natural gas for heat, compared with just three per cent that use heating oil.

Liberal MP Charles Sousa pushed Moe a little on that decision, asking him if he expects Saskatchewan residents to uphold the law.

Moe said he does, but he also said the decision on carbon pricing and natural gas was made because Ottawa is being unfair.

The Liberals announced the heating oil exemption last fall and they promote it as a fair plan because heating oil already costs three to four times what natural gas does.

But other premiers and Conservatives called it a political move to shore up votes in Atlantic Canada, where the Liberals are traditionally strong and where heating oil accounts for about one-third of household heating use.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2024.

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