Gudie Hutchings, Liberal Minister for Rural Economic Development, comments surrounding Trudeau’s carbon tax reversal sparks controversy and questions about priorities. Photo Credit: Twitter/ctvqp
Ironically, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s divisive carbon tax carve-out has united the majority of provinces.
Last month, Trudeau announced his government’s plan to suspend the federal carbon tax on furnace oil.
The prime minister made the move after Liberal polling numbers cratered in Atlantic Canada when the federal carbon tax backstop hit the region on July 1.
With winter creeping closer, Atlantic Canadian taxpayers balked at the idea of having to pay a massive carbon tax bill just to keep warm.
The average Atlantic Canada household using furnace oil faced a carbon tax bill of $272 this winter.
Trudeau’s suspension of the carbon tax on furnace oil disproportionately benefits those in Atlantic Canada. About 40 per cent of Atlantic Canadians use furnace oil. Meanwhile, just three per cent of Canadians and two per cent of Ontarians use furnace oil to heat their homes.
Trudeau hoped this move would restore cratering poll numbers in Atlantic Canada. Instead, it’s led to strong demand throughout the country for further exemptions and calls for scrapping the carbon tax are louder than ever.
Trudeau’s minister of rural economic development, Gudie Hutchings, laid bare the government’s crass politics by saying taxpayers in Western Canada need to elect more Liberals if they want to enjoy a similar exemption.
But Atlantic Canadians and their provincial politicians haven’t been bought off.
The premiers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are calling out the feds for sowing regional division, even though taxpayers in those provinces will disproportionately benefit from Trudeau’s furnace oil carve-out.
In an open letter to Trudeau, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, along with the premiers of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, called on the feds to extend the carbon tax exemption to all forms of home heating.
“It is of vital importance that federal policies and programs are made available to all Canadians in a fair and equitable way,” the premiers said. “Singling out Atlantic Canadians with this relief has caused divisions across the country. All Canadians are equally valued and should be equally respected.”
Trudeau has united leaders from across the country to stand up to his divisive carbon tax politics rather than win greater favour in Atlantic Canada.
Most Ontario and Western Canada households use natural gas to heat their homes. The average household in Ontario is facing a $326 carbon tax bill on natural gas this winter.
That bill is more significant than the average carbon tax bills Atlantic Canada households were set to pay on a dirtier form of home heating. Allowing for a dirtier heating method exemption proves the carbon tax is all about politics.
Half of Canada’s premiers are right in saying the carbon tax should be removed on all forms of home heating. That’s a good first step, but they must go further.
The entire carbon tax regime must go.
No matter how they heat their homes, families in every province will still have to pay carbon taxes when filling up to drive their kids to school. Food will still be more expensive because the truckers who ship it and farmers who produce it will be paying growing carbon tax bills.
It’s time to reject Trudeau’s politics of division. Canadians from coast to coast should stand up and demand a carbon tax exemption on all forms of home heating.
And when the next election finally comes, taxpayers are clearly planning to vote for candidates prepared to leave Trudeau’s carbon tax where it belongs: on the ash heap of history.
Jay Goldberg is the Ontario Director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. He previously served as a policy fellow at the Munk School of Public Policy and Global Affairs. Jay holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto.