Poilievre wants to topple the Liberal government with a non-confidence motion on the carbon tax

21 March 2024
Poilievre wants to topple the Liberal government with a non-confidence motion on the carbon tax


Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre introduced a non-confidence motion Wednesday that’s designed to topple the government and trigger a federal election — a parliamentary manoeuvre that’s likely to fail.

Poilievre and his party are ramping up the pressure on the Liberal government to drop a plan to increase the federal carbon tax.

The levy is set to rise by 23 per cent on April 1, which means consumers can expect to pay about three cents more for a litre of gas than they do now.

“If [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau does not declare today an end to his forthcoming tax increases on food, gas and heat, we’ll introduce a motion of non-confidence,” Poilievre said at a Conservative caucus meeting on Parliament Hill.

“Canadians cannot afford to eat, heat and house themselves,” he said to a standing ovation from MPs and senators. “I call for the House to be dissolved so Canadians can vote in a carbon tax election.”

In a speech before his national caucus, Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre says he will introduce a motion of non-confidence if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t stop the increase on the federal price on carbon, which is set for April 1.

The non-confidence motion is likely dead on arrival because the NDP has agreed to prop up the government through 2025.

The government’s supply-and-confidence agreement with the fourth party gives it enough support in the Commons to defeat the motion, which will go to a vote Thursday evening.

Poilievre hammered Trudeau on the carbon tax in question period Wednesday, using nearly all of his questions to the government to criticize the program and demand its repeal.

After some back and forth over the utility of carbon pricing, Poilievre said, “Why don’t we end the debate and let Canadians decide in a carbon tax election?”

“An election on the price of pollution? We had three of them and we won them all,” Trudeau fired back.

“Well, he shouldn’t be afraid to have one more,” Poilievre said. “If he really believes in it — why doesn’t he call a carbon tax election now?”

Trudeau and Poilievre also traded shots by citing different Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) reports about the financial effect the tax has on Canadians.

Duelling PBO reports

Trudeau pointed to a PBO report that found most households will see a net fiscal gain — the federal rebate will more than cover what those households pay in carbon taxes.

But the PBO also said, in another report that is frequently cited by Poilievre, that when taking into account the knock-on economic effects of the carbon tax, most households will actually see a net loss.

The PBO said the tax will have a negative effect on the larger economy, leading to a loss of employment and investment income for some families.

The federal rebates won’t be enough to offset both the tax and the slightly lower incomes some Canadians will collect as a result of the levy, the PBO said.

That PBO report did not, however, consider the cost of doing nothing about climate change.

“That’s what the Conservative Party is standing against right now — money in the pockets of Canadians and a real plan to fight climate change that is working, that is bringing down emissions,” Trudeau said.

“Luckily, a majority in this house wants to fight climate change.”

The government has a plan to gradually raise the tax to $170 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 2030, an increase that eventually will add nearly 40 cents a litre to the price of gas. The levy also will increase the price of other fuels like natural gas and propane.

Poilievre has been on a cross-country “spike the tax” tour to stir up opposition to the federal climate change measure. Hundreds of supporters turned out in Halifax on St. Patrick’s Day.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre held an anti-carbon tax rally in Halifax on St. Patrick’s Day. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

The party also tabled another opposition day motion in the House of Commons Wednesday to force a vote on the increase itself. The motion to halt the increase was defeated, with Bloc Québécois, Liberal and NDP MPs voting against it.

The Conservatives also requested a separate “emergency” debate on the subject, a request that was denied Monday by Speaker Greg Fergus.

The carbon tax is a central plank in the Liberals’ climate policybook and they have strenuously opposed a years-long, Conservative-led attempt to overturn it.

Hundreds join Pierre Poilievre for ‘Axe the Tax’ rally in Halifax

The levy is designed to increase the cost of fossil fuels to encourage consumers and businesses to pursue cleaner, greener alternatives.

The government has said all of the money collected from the tax is returned to people through the Canada carbon rebate, a quarterly payment made based on family size.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault makes a funding announcement at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

“Eight out of 10 Canadians, low-income to middle-income Canadians, get more money back than they’re paying for carbon pricing. That is a reality, that is a fact. And as carbon pricing goes up, so does the carbon rebate,” said Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, citing the PBO.

“That is one thing you’ll never hear Pierre Poilievre talk about. The other thing you’ll never hear Pierre Poilievre talk about is the impacts of climate change and how much it’s costing Canadians.”

Conservatives riding high after a lopsided victory in Durham federal byelection

But the government also levies HST on the carbon tax — income that goes into federal coffers.

The PBO has said Ottawa stands to gain about $600 million in the next fiscal year from this tax on a tax — funds that are not explicitly earmarked for climate initiatives.

The federal carbon tax was initially designed as a “backstop” measure that would only apply in provinces and territories that don’t have carbon prices of their own in place.

Now, after a number of provincial governments dismantled their pricing programs, the federal tax is applied in eight provinces. B.C. has its own carbon tax while Quebec has a cap-and-trade program.

Seven provincial premiers — including Liberal Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey — have asked Ottawa to stop the April 1 hike because of ongoing cost of living concerns.

“Premier Furey has always been clear that the federal carbon tax is not the appropriate instrument to mitigate climate change at this time,” said a spokesperson for the Liberal premier.

Other provincial Liberal leaders, including New Brunswick’s Susan Holt and Nova Scotia’s Zach Churchill, have also voiced opposition to the pending carbon tax hike.

Source: cbc

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