N.L.’s Liberal premier calls for emergency meeting with PM as anti-carbon tax protests snarl highways

2 April 2024
N.L.’s Liberal premier calls for emergency meeting with PM as anti-carbon tax protests snarl highways


Protests erupted across the country against the federal carbon tax on Monday — the same day it rose by 23 per cent — while Canada’s only Liberal provincial leader pressed for an emergency meeting to discuss alternative ways to cut emissions.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey called for an emergency meeting of leaders throughout Canada, arguing the program is too costly for his province and doesn’t work as intended.

Dozens protest carbon tax outside N.L. legislature, while Opposition says Furey is flip-flopping

Instead, Furey is urging the federal government to make “bold investments” in infrastructure and incentives akin to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act to drive consumers to change their habits.

“Today, a gas-powered truck drives fishing gear to the wharf in a rural Newfoundland and Labrador community. After April 1, there will be an additional carbon tax, but that same truck must still drive fishing gear to the wharf,” Furey wrote.

“There are no alternatives available. So, the key intent of this policy, to lower emissions, is not being achieved at this time.”

Trudeau responded today that while the price on pollution is rising, so is the Canada Carbon Rebate.

“It’s money in people’s pockets while we continue stepping up in the fight against climate change,” said Trudeau while making an unrelated announcement in Ottawa.

“So all those premiers that are busy complaining about the price on pollution but not putting forward a concrete alternative that they think would be better for their communities are just playing politics.”

Trudeau did not confirm whether he would heed Furey’s call for an emergency meeting.

As Canada’s price on carbon rises, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says premiers opposed to the carbon tax are ‘playing politics.’ His remarks come as economists say the policy is the cheapest way to make an impact on emissions, with higher rebates expected as early as April for qualifying Canadians.

Protests across Canada

Meanwhile, a countrywide protest against the carbon tax has drawn large crowds and vehicles to at least 15 locations across Canada, including on Parliament Hill but also on main interprovincial highways.

Dozens of people gathered outside of Confederation Building in St. John’s on Monday to protest the federal government’s carbon tax increase, which came into effect Monday and resulted in a 3.8 cent per litre increase in the price of gas in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

Videos posted on social media show hundreds of cars, trucks, RVs and tractors lined up, mounted with Canadian flags and “Axe The Tax” signs. RCMP is on site for most of the demonstrations but are warning motorists of delays.

The group organizing the movement says it aims to maintain at least one lane of traffic “while holding the line for an indefinite amount of time until the carbon tax has been ended.”

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Effective April 1, the price on carbon is $80 per tonne of emissions — up from $65 — adding another three cents a litre at the gas pump.

In N.L., protester Mike Coons says the rebate payments don’t change his opposition to the tax. According to Coons, “they don’t need to take our money and send it back to us because they’re showing us pity. The carbon tax has driven up everything.”

Outside Calgary at the Highway 1-Highway 22 intersection, small business owner Steve Tru says he’s joined the protest because he’s struggling more than ever.

“I’m really tired of how hard it’s becoming,” said Tru. “Bills keep getting bigger and bigger and we just can’t keep up.”

Protesters in Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick gathered to voice their displeasure with the April 1 carbon tax hike at the pumps, despite the fact rebates are also rising in each of those provinces.

Persistent political resistance

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre also continued his long-time campaign against the carbon tax. Speaking ahead of a rally in B.C. on Monday afternoon, Poilievre promised to end Trudeau’s signature climate policy if elected.

“His approach is taxes. Mine is technology. His approach is to raise the cost of traditional energy that we still need. My approach is to lower the cost of alternatives,” the opposition leader said.

The carbon tax policy has come under intense scrutiny in the last several weeks. The premiers of seven provinces called on the federal government to pause the increase or scrap the program altogether.

Sask. premier says change in federal government the only way to solve carbon tax dispute

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Some of those premiers — Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, Alberta’s Danielle Smith and New Brunswick’s Blaine Higgs — even made their case against the federal carbon pricing regime on Parliament Hill last week. Each of them testified virtually before MPs on the government operations and estimates committee, arguing the tax is exacerbating inflation by increasing the cost of everything.

The Liberal government says eight out of 10 families make more money through rebates than they pay in the carbon tax. This year, the average family of four in Canada will receive between $760 and $1,800 annually in rebate payments, depending on where they live.

Last week, some 200 Canadian economists signed an open letter defending carbon pricing as the least costly way for Canada to reach its emissions targets.

Source: cbc

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