Half of Premiers Now Want Trudeau to Call National Meeting on Carbon Tax

by EditorK

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill on Oct. 4, 2023. (Screenshot/ParlVu)

Doug Lett
By Doug Lett

Two more premiers are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to host a First Ministers’ meeting on the carbon tax.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Ontario Premier Doug Ford both released letters April 5 to request a meeting. The premiers of Alberta, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick have already done so.

“The Carbon Tax is unaffordable, unfair, and ineffective,” Mr. Moe said in his letter. “In the interest of fairness for all Canadians, I echo Premier Furey’s, Premier Higgs’ and Premier Smith’s letters asking you to convene a First Ministers’ Meeting to discuss the Federal Carbon Tax.”

Saskatchewan stopped collecting the carbon tax on home heating Jan. 1 to protest the federal move to exempt home heating oil from the tax. The pause primarily benefits Atlantic Canada. Saskatchewan’s suggestion last fall that the exemption be extended to include natural gas and other widely used forms of home heating was rebuffed by the prime minister.

“These amendments by the federal government providing only some Canadians affordability relief have created unacceptable disparities between households based on where they live,” Mr. Moe’s letter said.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the carbon tax is making life more unaffordable.

“The recent 23 per cent increase to the carbon tax has led to a sharp rise in gas prices across Ontario, reaching record-high levels this week,” the letter said. “This has people more worried than ever about making ends meet … the carbon tax is making everything from groceries to home heating more expensive.”

Mr. Ford said earlier this week that if Mr. Trudeau doesn’t reconsider carbon tax hikes, he will lose the next federal election, which must be held by fall of 2025.

“This carbon tax has to go or, in a year and a half, the prime minister is going. It’s as simple as that,” Mr. Ford told reporters during an April 2 press conference.

Mr. Trudeau appeared to reject any thoughts of a meeting at a news conference in Calgary April 5.

Asked directly by a reporter if he would have a meeting, he proceeded to praise the carbon tax as a way of tackling climate change while making eight out of 10 Canadians better off.

“And there are great opportunities for businesses and innovators and Canadians that are a part of solving the challenges that a net zero world is going to require,” Mr. Trudeau said. “But we have to take action. So we put a price on pollution everywhere across the country that is designed to put more money back in the pockets of hardworking Canadians.”

Asked again if he would have a meeting, the prime minister said the country’s premiers already met on the topic, years ago.

“We had a meeting on carbon pricing,” said Mr. Trudeau, referring to meetings in 2016. “And every single premier came together to work on establishing a pan-Canadian framework on climate change years ago, and part of it was that there would be a federal backstop to make sure that pollution wasn’t free anywhere across the country.”

Mr. Trudeau also pointed to a video of Alberta Premier Danielle Smith three years ago, where she appeared to praise the federal carbon tax before she was premier.

However, Ms. Smith told reporters April 5 that she made the comments at a time when the federal carbon tax was much lower.

“He has to point to a comment I made three years ago, it clearly shows he can’t defend his current position,” Ms. Smith told reporters. “You have to recall a few years ago they had also promised that the carbon tax would be no higher than $50 per tonne. It was also prior to having emissions caps, methane caps, net zero power grids, phasing out [gasoline powered] cars … he’s continued to pile on additional costs over the last few years, which has completely changed the calculus. And now we are at $80 per tonne, on the way to $170 per tonne,” she said.

Ms. Smith said even the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said for most families, the tax will cost more than families get back in rebates.

She also pointed out businesses are not getting rebates.

“All of those costs end up getting handed down in the cost of the goods that people buy, and that’s the reason why we continue to have an inflation crisis,” she said. “What he’s doing is not affordable, and people are telling him in so many ways, in so many different provinces with different political parties … It’s 70 percent of Canadians saying it.”

Doug Lett is a former news manager with both Global News and CTV, and has held a variety of other positions in the news industry.


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