As a loyal member of the official Opposition since 2015, I have encountered many interesting situations in which I held the Trudeau government accountable on behalf of the (residents) of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
However, this week, I am writing about a situation I never expected to occur. The situation is related to a surprise announcement made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, stating he would remove the carbon tax on home heating oil.
Specifically, the prime minister announced a "temporary, three-year pause to the federal price on pollution (fuel charge) on deliveries of heating oil in all jurisdictions where the federal fuel charge is in effect."
It is no secret many Canadians face financial difficulties due to the high cost of groceries, gas, heating and interest rates. As a result, I received numerous calls from residents seeking relief, especially from the carbon tax.
It is important to clarify the carbon tax in B.C. is imposed at the provincial level and falls under provincial jurisdiction, not federal jurisdiction. The province of British Columbia has decided to align their carbon tax with the rate unilaterally set by the federal government, increasing it to $170 per tonne by April 1, 2030 (the current rate for 2023 is $65 per tonne).
Media headlines quickly reported what many perceive as a flip-flop on the carbon tax by the prime minister. The National Post headline read, "Trudeau removes carbon tax from home heating oil as poll numbers drop in Atlantic Canada." The headline was based on the fact Atlantic Canada has a higher proportion of (residents) who use home heating oil compared to other regions of Canada. Currently, since 2015 Atlantic Canada has largely elected Liberal Members of Parliament rather than members from other political parties.
I mention that because many people have understandably asked why this financial relief, aimed at helping low-income (residents) who use home heating oil, is not offered to low-income (residents) in other parts of Canada, who use cleaner-burning natural gas or propane as their heating fuel.
To the surprise of many, Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings recently stated if people in other regions were unhappy their heating choices did not receive the same exemption, “Perhaps they need to elect more Liberals in the Prairies so that we can have that conversation as well.”
"I can tell you (the) Atlantic caucus was vocal with what they've heard from their constituents.”
This statement is remarkable, suggesting if you vote for the Liberals, you might not be subjected to the carbon tax on your home heating bill. Similarly, regions of Canada that do not frequently vote for the Liberals will continue to face the consequences of the carbon tax.
The prime minister has stated no other regions of Canada will receive a break on the carbon tax for home heating using natural gas or propane. This carbon tax break will only apply to those using home heating oil.
The Conservatives Opposition has long suggested removing the carbon tax on home heating. In fact, a motion was tabled last year to exempt all forms of home heating from the carbon tax, but the government rejected it.
It is important to note supporters of carbon taxes have also expressed concern about this sudden announcement, as it undermines the overall credibility of carbon taxation. As an Oct. 30 Globe and Mail editorial stated, "The Liberals' credibility on the carbon tax has gone up in smoke."
From my perspective, this abrupt change in carbon tax policy is extremely unfair to the numerous Canadians facing financial difficulties but are being penalized solely because they use propane or natural gas for home heating. This is why the common sense Conservatives, led by Pierre Poilievre, believe the carbon tax must be removed fairly and equally on all home heating sources across Canada and have pledged to immediately support legislation that will accomplish this.
My question this week is:
Is it fair to remove the carbon tax on home heating oil but not on cleaner-burning fuels like natural gas or propane? Why or why not?
I can be reached at [email protected] or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.