That, given that the government has announced a “temporary, three-year pause” to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” Those were the words of the , and that is the principle of my motion today. It reads, “That, given that the government has announced a ‘temporary, three-year pause’ to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.”
It is very simple. How does anyone argue with that? If the has now caved on the carbon tax for those heating with oil, then he ought to be intellectually consistent and do it for all forms of heating for all Canadians. We know that the Prime Minister has decided to create two classes of citizens. He, under pressure and under duress, decided to pause the carbon tax on home heat until after the election, at which point he intends to quadruple it. In the meantime, there will be a temporary carve-out. Asked why there was a double standard and why this carve-out applied only to about 3% of households, the said that other Canadians could have had the break too, but they did not elect enough Liberals. In addition to that being a bloody-minded, divide-and-conquer approach to politics, it is actually inaccurate, because many did elect Liberal MPs and are still forced to pay the tax on the heat. These are people in Liberal-held ridings who will be excluded and will be forced to pay the higher tax on the heat as the temperatures go down and the snow starts to fall.
Are these citizens less Canadian than those who are getting the pause? Is the malnourished senior in the Liberal riding of Sudbury who heats with gas any less Canadian than those who get the pause? Is the single mom in the Liberal ridings of Thunder Bay any less Canadian as she is forced by the 's tax to skip meals so her kids do not have to? Is the welder in North Bay any less Canadian, as he cannot gas up his truck to go visit his dying relatives in other parts of the province, any less Canadian? Of course they are not, but the Prime Minister thinks they are.
Once again we see his divide-to-distract strategy. He thinks that if people are afraid of their fellow Canadians, they might forget that they cannot afford to gas their car or heat their home. We have seen this divide-and-conquer strategy of the over many years. We saw how he called small businesses “tax cheats”. We saw how he called anyone who disagreed with him a “small fringe minority”, even though he later had to apologize for those comments. Recently, we saw how he tried to besmirch Muslims, Sikh and Christian parents, calling them “hateful” simply because they wanted to protect their children. We see, again and again, how the Prime Minister tries to demonize hunters, calling them “American” and saying that people who live in Cape Breton and hunt or who live in northern Canada and hunt for sustenance are the reason we have record gang shootings in downtown Toronto. That has become his go-to approach, and here we have it again with a “two classes of citizens” approach to his carbon tax.
Let us not forget that his plan is to quadruple the carbon tax if he is re-elected. My plan is the opposite. I propose, with this motion, a compromise in the meantime. What I propose is that we take the tax off so Canadians could keep the heat on this winter, and then, when Canadians go to the polls, we could have a carbon tax election where people choose between his plan to quadruple the tax on gas, heat and groceries, and my common-sense plan to axe the tax and bring home lower prices.
The , in his desperation yesterday, would not even show up and defend this approach in the House. He was in Ottawa and he was in the building, and he would not—
Mr. Speaker, today is an extremely important day. Today, the members of this House, who were elected to serve Canadians, have the opportunity to prove where their priorities are. The Conservative Party of Canada and our leader have put forth an opposition motion on which members will vote on Monday. It reads:
That, given that the government has announced a “temporary, three-year pause” to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.
This is a reasonable, common-sense, fair-minded motion. I want to read it into the record again:
That, given that the government has announced a “temporary, three-year pause” to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.
After eight years, the question is why we would even have to ask for such a common-sense motion. How did we get here? How did we get to the point that the Liberal-NDP government put in a punitive tax, telling Canadians it was an environment plan? We now know, through expert testimony and the behaviour of this Liberal , that this punitive carbon tax, which is driving up the cost of living, was never about environmental science. It was always about political science.
That is the pattern of behaviour we have seen over and over from the Prime Minister and the NDP, which continues to prop up the government and then practise hypocrisy in this House very single day in the chamber. The NDP prides itself on saying it stands up for the middle class and for the most vulnerable, and yet it props up the , who is making people's lives a living hell. This is not my opinion. These are facts.
Last week, Tiff Macklem, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, testified at the finance committee. I want to read into the record some of this testimony.
Mr. Tiff Macklem said, “First of all, it is the most vulnerable members of society that are suffering the most from high inflation. They are feeling the brunt of affordability more than everybody else. They can't just move down market. They're already at the bottom of the market. Much of their spending is already on necessities, you can't cut back on that. That's why it is so important that we get inflation down. Inflation is a tax that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable members of society.”
Some people may want to argue that the carbon tax is not responsible for inflation, or that it is not contributing to inflation. Let us correct that for the record as well. This has tried to tell Canadians that repeatedly, but again, we know it is not true. Let me read into the record more testimony from the Governor of the Bank of Canada during the finance committee last week.
The member for said, “Just to reiterate what you said there, it would be 60 basis points, or 0.6%. Currently the inflation rate is at 3.8%, so that equates to almost 15%, if I can do the math quickly.” Mr. Tiff Macklem said, “It would be 3.2.”
This testimony tells the story and the facts and it proves the impact of carbon tax on Canadians. If it were removed today or tomorrow, inflation would go from 3.8% to 3.2%. That is significant. For people at home who do not know, that is 16% overall. The cost of mortgages and interest rates, the cost of heating and the cost of groceries, which are all the things that people need, the necessities that people need to live that are squeezing them out every month, would go down. That is the impact of the carbon tax.
I want to read a couple of comments from constituents who write to me, because that is our job. Our job is to represent the constituents. It is to elevate their voices. When we talk about the most vulnerable, they are often our seniors.
Barb wrote to me and said, “We are retired and we heat with propane now. We changed from oil to propane because of the costs for oil, but propane is just as expensive now with the carbon tax and because the propane has jumped and our groceries, I work part-time to help cover these increases.”
Seniors worked their entire lives to retire, but they cannot. They are being forced back into the workforce and not at high-paying jobs. They are trying to get into entry-level jobs. They cannot enjoy the fruits of their labour. Some of them are moving in with their children. That is the result of this carbon tax.
I want to mention more stories, because they are very important to hear and have on the record.
Danny wrote, “My mother is going through this now. She has to make a choice: either heat her place or buy groceries. She layers up in clothing in her apartment. She is 69 years old. I have never seen this country so bad.”
Mike Jessop wrote, “I heat my home with food.” What does that mean? It means he does not have any money left over to pay for his heating. He can only pick one or the other. How sad is that?
Elizabeth MacNeil-Young wrote, “I lived through two Trudeau governments.” I am not sure I can say that name. “Back in the eighties, I worried about losing my home. I made it work, though. Now my children are in the same boat.”
Carol said, “I changed from an oil-fired boiler to an electric boiler because I couldn't afford the monthly oil bill any longer. I wish there was a rebate for us homeowners who couldn't afford a heat pump and put in an electric boiler instead.”
This brings me to a point I want to bring up. I sit in this House every day and listen to the members opposite in the Liberal Party. Their new argument is that they are giving away free heat pumps. There are two problems with that. Number one is that heat pumps only work to -25°C. We live in Canada. I do not know where the Liberals are talking about, but many areas in Canada go far below -25°C.
The second problem is their statement that they are giving away free heat pumps. That is the essence of the problem we have in this country because of the Liberals. Nothing is free. It is taxpayer money. This is basic fiscal policy. Anyone who manages a household budget understands this. There is monetary policy that is controlled by the Governor of the Bank of Canada. It is his or her job to control inflation.
Fiscal policy is controlled by the government, which, in this case, are the Liberals and NDP. Fiscal policy is how much they spend. A basic student going to university right now knows that if people spend more than they make and have to use their credit cards, they will only be paying off interest and that debt will go up and up. That is how we got into this position.
When Liberals say they are giving away free heat pumps, that is disgusting, because it is taxpayer money. They should be honest and transparent. They are using taxpayer money. How much is that going to cost? Are they going to pay for the amp service? People are going to need to up their amp service. That is the issue. Liberals do not have their own money. They have taxpayers' money. Until they figure that out, we are going to keep doing the same thing over and over again.
The Liberals' agenda is not about the climate. It is about holding onto power and keeping seats that are slipping from them because Canadians cannot handle this misery any longer. We heard from a Liberal on national television say that if people want a break from the carbon tax, they have to vote Liberal. That is shameful. It is awful. Every Canadian deserves the necessities to live. We are Canada.
The only party committed to affordability in this House is the Conservative Party. Today Conservatives challenge this House to prove their service to Canadians and to prove that they will do what they were elected to do, which is make life better, not worse. The most compassionate thing we can do is make life affordable for our children, for our seniors, for the middle class who go to work every day to pay their bills and cannot.
Today, Conservatives call on this House to treat all Canadians fairly and to vote in favour of the Conservatives' motion to pause the carbon tax on all home heating for all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, we are here to debate an opposition day motion from the Conservative Party. As I read the text of the motion, and this is a common occurrence, I find the need to clarify and provide more context to what the Conservatives are calling for. This follows a very important government announcement last week. If we look at the text of the motion, it provides no clarity, no context and no actual solution for how the Conservative Party would deal with a very acute national issue, about which I look forward to talking to with all my colleagues today.
Before I start talking about what the government announced last week, it is important to talk about why there is a carbon price system at all. We are here because we are experiencing more and more dramatic and extreme weather as a result of climate change. Colleagues across the country will have experienced this as well.
My home province has had the worst forest fires in its history. Indeed, that was a reality across the country. We had hurricane Fiona. I have talked to constituents about this. Hurricanes used to happen maybe once a decade on the Atlantic coast and in Nova Scotia. They are happening every year now. In some cases, they are subject to having two storms.
The science is clear. Generally, most parliamentarians in this place believe in the importance of moving forward. Carbon pricing is an effective way to do that. Seventy-seven jurisdictions around the world have a form of carbon pricing. Last election, the Conservative Party ran on a carbon price. Canada is not alone in this regard. It is an important tool to being sure we can drive forward.
The way that the government introduced the system was to be very mindful of balancing affordability. I just listened to the member for . She is not entitled to her own facts. The facts are that the Parliamentary Budget Office has consistently shown that eight out of 10 families receive more money back from the climate action incentive payments than what they pay in any form of carbon pricing.
That is not my fact. That is not the member for 's fact. That is from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, an independent member of this Parliament, who provides that reality.
Carbon pricing in our environmental strategy is working. Notwithstanding that we never hear comments or concerns from the Conservative Party about environmental concerns or a plan, we are the only government in the history of our country that has actually reduced GHG emissions and grown the economy at the same time. Again, that is a fact. Is there more work to do? Absolutely, but I am proud of being part of a government caucus and a government that has been focused on that number one question. I cannot say the same for the official opposition.
That is the contrast. As I have said before, I am not seeing any plan, any vision or any desire to want to jointly address the questions, right now, of affordability and environment. As I have said publicly, those two things have to go hand in hand. The Conservatives do not seem to understand that we have to tackle these issues at the same time. They cannot be independent.
Last week, the government made a really important announcement. As a rural member of Parliament, I am proud to see the adjustments that were made. At the end of the day, not all Canadians have the same access to change behaviour and to benefit from the climate action incentive payment program. Not all Canadians have the same tools in the fight of climate change, particularly the further we go outside major urban areas.
You represent in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, and I represent Kings—Hants. I think it is fair to say that we both have the types of constituencies where there is some basic form of public transit, but it is not available to all our constituents. There are many instances were the people we represent have to drive longer distances and do not have the same tools as people living in major cities, like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver.
The government did recognize that in what it originally introduced as a climate program under the national carbon pricing plan. There is a 10% supplement available to Canadians who live outside of a census metropolitan area. However, what the government announced last week was that this increase would go from 10% to 20%. I applaud the government for doing this. That makes a difference for rural Canadians in the federal backstop jurisdictions across the country.
It means that rural Ontarians have more money in their pockets. It means that individuals living in Saskatchewan and Alberta outside of major cities have more money to help support and recognize the lived differences between them and Canadians who live in major urban areas. It is equity in ensuring that this is in place, and the government was smart and mindful to make that change.
One million Canadians use home heating oil across the country: 286,000 in Atlantic Canada; 465,000 in Quebec; 266,000 in Ontario; approximately 30,000 in the Prairie provinces; and 88,000 in British Columbia. I do not have the statistics for northern Canada in front of me, but I know many northerners use heating oil as well.
This is an acute issue, because the reality is that heating oil is two to four times more expensive than other conventional means to heating homes. There is a clear economic incentive to change from a home heating oil furnace. If people at home right now have a furnace that uses oil to heat their home and if they have some money in their bank account, I would humbly suggest they look at finding ways to get off heating oil, because it is vastly more expensive and it is also terrible in an environmental sense.
We do not hold Canadians responsible for the fact that they have certain living circumstances and use oil to heat their homes. There are vulnerable Canadians across the country, in the ridings of the official opposition, in the ridings of the government caucus. I would hazard a guess that every member in this place has some people in their riding who use heating oil. However, we have an interest, as a government, to help those people who may not have the means to change their behaviour themselves.
If people do not actually have the money to take on a project to reduce their reliance on heating oil, then they are stuck. That is exactly why the government launched a program in the fall of 2022 specific to those Canadians, to help them try to make a transition. There is a $10,000 federal grant available to any Canadian who wants to make a transition. The $10,000 grant is available to those of low and medium income. The government has a program that is more loans-based, with zero interest, for those of higher income. However, there are federal resources available across the country.
I will read some statistics, as they inform the debate and the conversation we are having about equity. The equity has been framed around one source of heating oil with no context about the price differential.
For members living in Ontario, I want them to know that if they have people using home heating oil, they are paying, on average, $3,400 a year on that oil. For those on natural gas, it is $900 a year. Therefore, oil is almost four times the amount. If people do not have the money, how do they get off of it? They are in a vicious cycle, using the most expensive fuel to heat their home, and they do not have the money to get off the source they are using. In Regina and Saskatchewan, it is the same thing, $1,400 for natural gas on a yearly basis compared $4,500 for heating oil. In Vancouver, it is $600 for natural gas and $1,800 for heating oil. Also, the prices have gone up 73% over the last two years.
I hear the member for saying, “I wonder why.” It is not because of carbon pricing. It is that the level of rhetoric from the other side that shows those members do not understand the fundamental market difficulties of Canadians who are in this situation.
That is why we have launched a national program, which was $250 million. It was available and remains available to all Canadians.
However, what the announced last week was balancing affordability and environmental progress together. He announced that we would augment that plan and temporarily pause carbon pricing on home heating oil. Let us remember that there are a million Canadians who are vulnerable and are paying in excess of anywhere between two to four times the amount that other Canadians are paying on their heating bills.
We launched a program in partnership with Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador to increase the support for Canadians who are in difficult situations. People who are below the provincial median income in my riding and your riding, Mr. Speaker, are going to benefit from a federal grant of up to $15,000 with the Province of Nova Scotia supporting the remaining $5,000. There is a $250 incentive to join the program. We are going to help people actually make a transition off heating oil. It is good for the environment, it is good for affordability and it matters to the most vulnerable Canadians.
I want to give members an example from my riding. Mr. Speaker, you have been there. It was out in rural Hants County, on the Hants shore in Walton. I talked to a woman named Doris. It was about this time last year when we launched some of the programs. She said she was glad to see there was a $10,000 grant she could access, but she was on a senior's pension and the guaranteed income supplement. She did not have a lot of extra money at the end of the month; things were tight. She said she would love to take on the program, but she was quoted $17,000 to $18,000 for the project. She cannot, even though the government is there trying to help, access the program.
Now, Doris in Walton is going to be able to benefit from a program of cost delivery between the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada. Not only is that good for the environment, but more importantly, in the affordability context, it is good for Doris. It is going to save her thousands of dollars a year. I do not hear any solutions from the official opposition of what it is going to do long term. Yes, it would remove approximately 20¢ from Doris's bill each year. We have done that. We have paused the carbon price because we recognize there is a group of Canadians who simply cannot make the transition.
Why would we have a carbon price when we are literally launching a national program to help them out? We have gotten rid of the carbon price. We have done what the Conservatives would do, but we have gone a step further. We have offered Doris a long-term solution to help her make that transition. I do not hear the Conservatives even talking about that program. Great, the Conservatives' plan on affordability is to offer Doris 20¢ off per litre, on average, from her home heating bill, which runs about $1.88 per litre right now. It would be down to $1.68; well done, Conservatives.
Guess what we are going to offer Doris? We are going to offer Doris $2,500 a year in cost savings that she can then use to support herself in other ways. That is a good program. That is actually having a vision to focus on the transition and helping people out, and I do not hear that. Again, I have touched a bit on the exemption. This is a conversation. At the end of the day, we have seen some pundits here in Ottawa. Some say we are undermining the carbon system. No, we are not. We are tying a specific pause to a carbon price with a program for people who are too vulnerable to make the transition, and who have all the economic incentive to change because they are paying four times the energy bill. If they had the money, they would have already transitioned.
These people exist across the country. Is it acute in Atlantic Canada? Absolutely. I am proud of the fact that the government has addressed this. I am proud to be able to go home and tell my constituents we have a solution for them. I am proud that, whether I go to northern Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Alberta, I will be able to tell people in the same situation that we have a solution for them too.
The way the Conservative Party has framed this is that somehow this is just for one region, but it is not. It is available for the whole country. The 30,000 households in the prairie provinces that use heating oil, that are vulnerable, that cannot make a transition and are paying four times the price of natural gas, do they not deserve a break too? Do they not deserve a government that is focused on meeting their needs? I have not heard one word from the Conservatives on that whatsoever.
At the end of the day, that is exactly what we have done. What we announced last week is good news for the entire country. It is particularly good news for rural and regional Canada. I am proud, as a member of Parliament representing a rural riding, to have offered thoughtful solutions and adjustments to a national policy, instead of a tear-it-down approach on the other side. Remember that the Conservatives are offering to remove approximately 20¢ off home heating bills. We are offering long-term solutions to actually help people make a transition. That is the difference and Canadians will take notice about what we are doing.
We are focused on vulnerable households. I listened to the leader of the official opposition, and there was not one word about the one million Canadians who are in a very difficult position in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec, with 465,000 households in Quebec. It is very difficult situation that they are in.
Again, I want to highlight there is federal support across the board. We have launched a specific project to augment the national program.
An hon. member: Oh, oh!
Mr. Kody Blois: Mr. Speaker, instead of just standing across the way and yelling and offering simplistic solutions, I would encourage the member from Prince George to reach out to Premier Eby, because I can promise some people in Prince George right now use heating oil and are in a difficult situation.
He should direct them to the $10,000 grant that exists right now for his constituents. I hope he has. Maybe we should get some household material about whether he has actually talked about the programs the government is announcing. He should call Premier Eby and ask the premier to work together with him. He should ask him to reach out to the Government of Canada and work for the 88,000 households in British Columbia that use home heating oil.
What about the people in Saskatchewan and Manitoba? Yes, they are smaller communities, but these people still matter, these people who are in rural, northern communities and need help.
I want to tell the story of why we are focused and why this matters, because it has been vandalized by the Conservatives to suggest that this is only from one part of the country. It is not. It is a national question of a million households across the country.
Instead of offering simplistic solutions to save people at home very minimal amounts of money, because the actual market cost to heat their home is frankly extortionate, it is so expensive, we are not only temporarily pausing in direct correlation to a program to help people make a transition but are giving them the money to help make the transition so they are not stuck in a cycle. That is climate action.
There are some people in this country, and I have seen it, who see it as a climate step-down. No, not at all. In fact, I would point to an agency back home in my province, the Ecology Action Centre. It is saying that this is an example of action on climate and affordability at the same time. It is the pre-eminent environmental organization in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada, because it understands the unique regional challenges that exist not only in the Atlantic but indeed in rural Ontario, northern Ontario.
The member for , instead of actually talking about what the Conservatives do to help people in northern Ontario, is calling a press conference. I can only imagine what elements he would be talking about. He will probably not be talking about the fact there are 266,000 households in Ontario who would benefit from this. No, he is going to stage a press conference in front of the office of the member of Parliament for . It is disgusting; it is sick.
Why do the Conservatives not step up with a plan? Again, they ran on carbon pricing in the last election. If they do not want to run on it this election, fine, but show Canadians an iota of evidence that they actually have a plan not only on the environment but on affordability.
I have already talked to many constituents at home, and they appreciate what the government did this week. They appreciate the fact that this matters. I have talked to some of our members on this side and indeed other members in the House. I talked to the member for last night. He said, “You know, there are a lot of people in my riding who use heating oil.” He said that what was announced was going to make a difference. That is a Conservative-held riding.
There is a national program. I am proud of what the government has done. We have made sure rural Canadians are better protected and better supported under the national pricing strategy, particularly those who do not have the same ability to change behaviour. We have taken a specific look at a million Canadian households that are in a very vulnerable situation, that are paying some of the highest costs in the country to heat their homes and do not have an ability to transition. We have built and augmented a national plan.
I hope to get some questions, particularly from my NDP colleagues. Again, this was framed very quickly as an Atlantic Canada exercise. It is a national question. I know some of my NDP colleagues represent rural areas, and hopefully they will be able to opine on the importance of this project and what else we might be able to do to help those people. We are going to be focused on solutions, not rhetoric.
I am proud to stand with this government, and I look forward to answering further questions.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise the Chair that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for .
Today is a bit like Groundhog Day. For a while now, it feels like the same day keeps coming back. Once again, we must highlight a very simple fact about the Conservative motion: it does not apply in Quebec. This was already true for the dozens of other motions the Conservatives have presented about the carbon tax. They do not apply in Quebec.
We understand that the Conservative Party is a federalist party, a Canada-wide party. Sometimes, the Conservatives want to look after Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta, the Atlantic provinces. In a way, that is their job, since they are a Canada-wide party. Nonetheless, since I was elected in 2021, this has bothered me. It bothers me because I have not yet had the opportunity I so desire, which is to rise to speak on a Conservative opposition day and believe that they are looking out for or thinking about Quebec, that their proposal applies to Quebec, that it is something of interest to Quebeckers.
The first time, we thought they were looking out for their voting base in oil country. The second time, we thought they were looking out for their voters elsewhere. Today, we see the consistent truth: Quebec is of no interest to them. What interests them is the oil sector. Just this week, the member for said as much, in somewhat fancier terms, on a CPAC panel. The Conservative plan to fight climate change consists of three things their leader stated at their convention: subsidize the oil sector, subsidize the oil sector and subsidize the oil sector with Quebeckers’ money.
I am concerned that the Quebec Conservative caucus does not seem to have any influence. They do not seem to be heard, or to stand up for Quebeckers. If they stood up for Quebec, if it were worthwhile for Quebeckers to vote Conservative, we would be talking here about Quebec once in a while. What is interesting about these Conservative caucus members is that they are among those who joined forces to ensure carbon taxes did not apply in Quebec. They were players. They were Jean Charest’s gang. With one exception, they were his cronies.
The member for supported Quebec's emissions trading system and Quebec's environmental sovereignty in cabinet in Quebec City. She's a friend of Jean Charest, a good friend. She was part of that. When the member for was in Quebec City, he said he was in favour of Quebec's autonomy in the realm of environmental policy. That is what the Bloc Québécois is fighting for. Once he landed in Ottawa, his values evaporated. The member for was one of Jean Charest's underlings in Quebec City. He was part of that gang. As one of Jean Charest's minions, he worked to defend our environmental sovereignty, but now it is radio silence. The member for campaigned in support of Jean Charest's leadership bid. They were so joined at the hip, it was a wonder Mr. Charest did not have to get bigger pants so the member could fit in there with him. Now, there is nothing. Nobody is standing up for Quebec.
There is no more defending Quebec because with the Conservatives, under the current Conservative leader, it is a purity test for a Quebecker to deny the interests of Quebec, to lie to Quebec and defend the Conservative lines which are deeply flawed. Some days I tell myself I am happy there is a gym in Parliament. Members of Quebec's Conservative caucus do not get in their squats and their exercise by standing up for Quebeckers in the House. If they want to firm their thighs here, they do not do so by standing up for Quebec, because they never stand up for Quebec. They are going to get bedsores remaining seated for Quebec. They do not even ask for health transfers for them, which is what the provinces and Quebec are asking.
This worries me because there are Quebeckers who, at one time, trusted these people. They were wrong. On Bloc opposition days, which are focused on the needs of Quebec, these same Conservatives have the nerve to tell us what we should have done. They tell us we should have chosen topics that matter to Quebeckers. Yesterday, Parliament voted unanimously in favour of a motion from the Bloc Québécois asking the federal government to consult Quebec before announcing its new immigration targets.
During the vote, all Quebec members, Conservatives and Liberals alike, voted in favour of consulting Quebec. That same day, the federal government adopted and announced targets unilaterally. It did so without consulting Quebec, as was confirmed to us by the Quebec minister. Today is an opposition day and it would have been a good topic to address. The Conservatives had the opportunity to think of Quebec for the first time in years. They did not do it because a Quebecker in the Conservative Party is useless. It would have had direct consequences on the lives of Quebeckers, on the capacity to integrate, on French language training, on togetherness. Actions count.
I will speak of the Canada emergency business account, or CEBA. The Conservatives, who form the current opposition, have the opportunity to ask tons of questions during oral question period. Right now, tens of thousands of businesses are headed for bankruptcy and we are asking for a CEBA loan repayment extension. That is what chambers of commerce are asking for. We can agree that they are not part of the radical left. However, never has a Quebec Conservative stood in the House to defend our businesses, our entrepreneurial base or the investments people have made. These people have never stood up for Quebec.
Quebec has its own housing model. The Conservatives say that they favour decentralization and acknowledge that the provinces have jurisdictions. When Quebec tries to exercise its power in its areas of jurisdiction, it gets no money from Ottawa. How many times have we seen a Conservative from Quebec rise in the House to ask the government to give Quebec the $900 million it was due from income tax paid by Quebeckers? There are over 10,000 homeless people in Quebec, and the cost of housing continues to rise. It is a national crisis. My colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert is working full time on this, but no Conservative has ever spoken on the topic.
The Conservatives have never asked for an increase in health transfers. They bowed to their leader.
The Quebec Conservatives claim to be progressive conservatives. They say this until they look at their values, then their pay, then their values again, then the money they make in Ottawa with their nice Conservative seats. That is where it stops. Suddenly, they are progressive only on statutory holidays and weekends.
When the Conservatives helped to ensure the carbon tax did not apply in Quebec, they were players. They are now on the sidelines and are trying all kinds of tricks to say that it applies in Quebec. They wanted to play wedge politics and say that the tax applies across Canada, but they did a poor job of it, as is so often the case. They were caught misleading the House.
In response, they fooled around with motions and conjured all kinds of convoluted nonsense to say that there was a second carbon tax. This second carbon tax is a regulation that will not apply until 2030. They did not know this because they did not do their homework, because the Conservatives do not listen to Quebeckers. They realized that the Quebec regulation is more restrictive and that this had no effect. They are now bending over backwards to try to explain that it is coming in through the back door or whatever.
The truth is that Alberta made $24 billion this year on oil royalties. Alberta taxes compulsively and is dependent on oil. Per person, for every dollar Quebec makes on hydroelectricity, Alberta makes 13 on oil. Furthermore, this government has no modern sales tax or personal income tax. This is the system Quebec Conservatives defend in their caucus. They are kowtowing to keep their seat.
The member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier promised to resign if the current Conservative leader was elected. Today, we are not hearing the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier defend the decentralization of Quebec's environmental policy or Quebec's jurisdictions.
My political commitment is to Quebec and it is profound. We are standing up for Quebec and we are standing up for the truth. I appeal to the statesmanship of the Conservative members from Quebec. I hope that at some point they will reflect deeply on what their commitment means to them, and that one day we will be able to discuss a motion that applies to Quebec. However, that is not the case today.
Madam Speaker, members will notice that my speech is similar to that of my colleague from . The thing I have learned in politics is that we need to repeat ourselves often so that our messages are heard. It feels like Groundhog Day, as my colleague from Mirabel said, or like Nietzsche's eternal recurrence. The Conservative Party has plenty to say about the carbon tax.
There is something essential that I need to clarify: Today's motion will have no impact on Quebec. It does not concern Quebec. The only good thing about this motion is that it clearly demonstrates that everything the Conservative Party said when it was talking about the two carbon taxes does not apply to Quebec. That is crystal clear. If the government reduces the carbon tax on home heating in Canada, Quebec will never see the effects of that because it does not apply to Quebec. The carbon tax does not apply to Quebec. What we get from this motion is that the Conservative Party is completely out of touch with Quebec's reality.
As my colleague said, the Conservative members from Quebec do not carry enough weight in their caucus to push the issues facing the only francophone nation in North America. The representatives of the only francophone nation in North America are unable to carry Quebec's messages to the House. The Conservative members are failing to be a voice for Quebec, but it gets worse. This week, the leader of the Conservative Party made it clear that the carbon tax would become the main electoral or ballot-box issue. The leader of the Conservative Party believes that the ballot-box issue of the next general election is one that does not involve Quebec. At no point has it ever involved Quebec. This is unprecedented. It is a fundamental rejection of the Quebec nation.
I would like to clarify something. The Conservatives constantly refer to two carbon taxes. The first tax applies to Canada, whereas Quebec has a carbon exchange. Some Conservatives have actually started to adjust their language. They know very well that lying will not help them win. Whenever they talk about the other carbon tax, calling it the regulations, they are referring to the clean fuel regulations. These regulations were the logical continuation of regulations put in place by one Stephen Harper. I am not sure if my colleagues are aware of this, but he was a Conservative. These regulations will not take full effect until 2030. Now we are being asked to look into the future. They want to fight inflation now, but the effects will not be felt until 2030.
Furthermore, there are already parallel regulations in Quebec that are in force today, in 2023. Quebec's clean fuel regulation are already in effect. Will the Conservatives trample on Quebec's regulatory independence by saying that it should repeal its clean fuel regulations? Worse yet, we are collectively subsidizing oil companies so they can introduce low-carbon fuel. We are all paying for this. The Conservatives are also asking why we could not stick consumers with the bill. Where I come from, that is called double-dipping, like when someone takes a potato chip and sticks it into the dip twice. That is not allowed. When it comes to oil, the Conservatives no longer see clearly. This is quite obvious to me.
As my colleague said earlier, we are wasting a ridiculous amount of time talking about the carbon tax. Meanwhile, not one Conservative member from Quebec is talking about the issues that affect us all. I have not heard one Conservative member talk about the CEBA loans, even though the National Assembly unanimously passed a motion calling for the December 31 deadline to be significantly extended. I have not heard a single Conservative talk about that. Regarding immigration, they voted in favour of our motion, but I never hear a Conservative member argue that Quebec is losing all of its weight within the Canadian federation.
The Quebec minister said it again this morning: One of the effects of uncontrolled immigration is reduced political weight for Quebec. I do not hear any Conservatives talking about that. If we are serious about fighting inflation, then the first thing that we should probably be doing is taking care of the most vulnerable. Among the most vulnerable are seniors struggling to afford housing, clothing and food because their pensions are so meagre. If the Conservatives were serious, they would support increasing old age security and the guaranteed income supplement.
That is not all. Since 2015, the Liberals have been talking about reviewing the Employment Insurance Act. Who is more vulnerable than an unemployed worker unable to access benefits? I have never heard a Conservative say that because of inflation, perhaps we should review the Employment Insurance Act. All they talk about is the carbon tax.
An important test is coming up in the next few months or next year, especially for Quebec. It is about Bill 21 and Bill 96, which will be challenged in court. I am eager to see how the Quebec Conservatives will react. Today I want reach out to them, because I know we will need them as well. Perhaps one way to do this is by showing them reality. That is why I want to return to the Conservative Party leadership race.
However, before that, I want to return to some rather hare-brained remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition, the member for . For instance, there was the time he offered his unconditional support to the trucker convoy, including its illegal behaviour. The Leader of the Opposition also had the oh-so-brilliant idea of firing the Governor of the Bank of Canada because he did not agree with him. He took quite a beating for that one. He even touted cryptocurrency, saying it could help Canadians opt out of inflation. I cannot speak for my colleagues, but the majority of the people I know are aware that cryptocurrency is not the way to ensure the well-being of the middle class. Cryptocurrency does not reduce inflation. It does not help with the price of gas or turkey, which was another of the Leader of the Opposition's obsessions. Lastly, it certainly does not help people find housing and put clothes on their backs.
There are also all the misleading advertisements. I do not know if my colleagues saw the ad that used an image of a Quebec family and said they were struggling to pay their mortgage. The people in this family then came forward, saying that it was a stock image, but that the ad was associating them with a reality that did not in the least reflect their own and that it was making them look stupid. The Conservative Party is unscrupulous. It uses images like that one and claims that these people are struggling to pay their mortgage, when that is completely false. Worst of all was hearing the member for Carleton, the leader of the official opposition, say on numerous occasions in the House that there were people who could not afford food and were asking for medical assistance in dying. How can we trust someone who makes such asinine statements?
I am saying these things because it just goes on and on, and the Conservative Party leader's vision is catching. When people from Suncor came to committee, some members tried to prevent me from asking the Suncor CEO questions. They did not want me to make him uncomfortable, like he was royalty. What is more, I heard a Conservative apologize to the Suncor reps on behalf of all Canadians. I could not even make this stuff up.
I will wrap up quickly with one final thought. Members may recall that, during the last leadership race, only two Quebec MPs did not take sides, but seven MPs were against the current opposition leader. Let me point out that one of them was the member for . He supported Jean Charest, the very same Jean Charest whom he had clumsily accused of being the godfather of the Liberal family 10 years before. The member for Louis-Saint-Laurent chose to support Mr. Charest despite his questionable ethics in Quebec, rather than the man who is now opposition leader.
I would encourage my Conservative colleagues from Quebec to get back in touch with reality. There are going to be some interesting debates happening in Quebec. If they do get back in touch with reality, we will be happy to try to help them out.
Madam Speaker, it is deeply concerning because, of course, protecting the environment and our children's futures is really a Conservative idea. This is about conserving what we have enjoyed and benefited from for so many years.
The climate crisis is a pressing concern for many people, and certainly for many people I represent. However, there is another great challenge plaguing our country, and people refer to it as the affordability crisis. I do not think that language really gets to the heart of what is happening, because what is happening is much more systemic and structural.
Not everyone in our country is struggling. Some people are getting fantastically rich and accumulating tremendous wealth while the vast majority of Canadians struggle to pay bills. We have people sleeping on our streets and record food bank visitation, and all the while, the big corporations of this country are making out like bandits.
On the issue of economic inequality, the Liberal Party is missing in action. Despite ample opportunity to stand up to these big corporations and drive affordability for Canadians who are struggling, the Liberals have completely abdicated that responsibility. They have not stood up to the big banks. They have not stood up to the big telcos. They have not stood up to the Rich Krugers of the world, who are amassing massive profits and polluting all the while. They have not stood up to the grocery giants. They have not stood up to the big airlines, such as Air Canada, which is once again seeing its profits soar. However, people are struggling in this country. People are having a hard time putting food on the table. People are having a hard time affording transportation and home heat.
This brings me to the topic of the motion, and I think most Canadians see it quite clearly for what it is: a cynical attempt by a flailing government to save its political hide in the only part of rural Canada where it has any. Among the values we share as Canadians, one of the greatest ones is a sense of fairness. Certainly, when I talk to people, they want the policy we create in this place to be fair. However, they see a great and profound unfairness when the government, for political reasons, because it is struggling in a certain part of the country, makes changes to help some people in Canada but not others. That is not fair, and I think it is eminently reasonable for people in other provinces and other parts of this country who have been overlooked by the government when it comes to the affordability of home heating to want the same. That is what we are debating today.
We have heard from the government, of course, that Canadians in all parts of the country can access its programs, so I will take a bit time to talk about how deeply flawed the government's program for home energy efficiency and heat pumps is in the rest of the country. The government has made changes for people who heat with home heating oil, but for people who heat with natural gas, the process is impossible.
I will tell a story about Perry, my neighbour in Smithers. His gas furnace went, and he wanted to do the right thing and get a low-emissions heating system. He learned about this great program the federal government had and went through all the steps. He had to get a home energy audit, of course, and then he had to find a contractor, who had to work through the program. However, the contractor installed a heat pump that worked in the northern community, only to discover after it was installed that, while the indoor unit was on the government's approved list for equipment, the outdoor unit, which was also on the list, was not listed in conjunction with the indoor unit. This was maddening. Of course, Perry is someone who wants to shift his home off of fossil fuel heat and onto a clean alternative, so the contractor, who was incredibly frustrated and at that point did not want to have anything to do with the government's greener homes program, ripped out the heat pump and put in a different one that was on the list. However, a year and a half later, my neighbour is still waiting for the greener homes rebate of $5,000.
I would bet that he and the contractor have spent more than 5,000 dollars' worth of time just dealing with the brutal bureaucracy of a program that does not work for any Canadians but, most of all, does not work for low-income Canadians. They are the ones who deserve the help the most. The fact is that these heat pumps work, and they can reduce people's bills dramatically. People deserve the help that they provide.
What we want to see is the same kind of help provided to people in Atlantic Canada to be extended to people across the country, especially low-income people, people who heat with gas and people who heat with electricity. That is why we have brought forward a proposal to remove the GST on all forms of home heating. Not only that, but we want the government to improve its heat pump program so that every single Canadian has access to the financial resources they need at the front end, with no massive bureaucracy, no waiting a year and a half, no need for assessments and all that stuff. If it is good enough for people in Atlantic Canada, it is good enough for people in northwest British Columbia: people in Smithers, in Terrace, in Kitimat, in Prince Rupert, in Burns Lake and all the other communities that I am so proud to represent.
How are we going to pay to put heat pumps in the homes of every low-income homeowner in this country? We are going to do it by putting an excess profits tax on the oil and gas companies, which continue to make off like bandits while fuelling the climate crisis that threatens our children's future. That is a plan, and that is something we are going to get behind.
Madam Speaker, it is always a great honour to rise here in the House on behalf of the people of Timmins—James Bay at a time when public confidence in public institutions and democracy is at an all-time low. We certainly know that trust in democracy is under very frightening pressures all over the world.
In Canada, recent polls show that over 75% of the Canadian people believe that Parliament and the behaviour of parliamentarians have become “dishonest” and “useless.” At a time of growing difficulty in our country and growing difficulty and very dark times around the world, it is incumbent upon us to be able to show that democracy can work and that parliamentarians can work together.
That is why I am very concerned about today's debate, which seems to be one between an absolute failure of vision on the one hand and an absolute failure of leadership on the other. What we are debating really reflects a political race to the bottom that is leading and feeding this growing public alienation and rage farming. As elected representatives, we all have a sacred duty to adjudicate the very difficult economic, environmental, political and international issues that confront us as a nation.
This means that we must occasionally climb out of our partisan trenches and put forward a bigger vision for the nation. Doing this means that sometimes we are going to need to stand up on unpopular issues. If we are going to build a long-term future for our children, sometimes it is incumbent upon the leadership of this generation to say that tough choices have to be made.
However, that is not what we are debating here. We are debating the realm of gotcha politics and rage-farm politics in response to a very desperate and cynical gerrymandering of public policy that was clearly seen, in the public's eyes, as a desperate attempt to shore up Liberal MPs in certain parts of the country. The result was to pit region against region and to raise fundamental questions about a signature piece of the government's climate action plan, which is carbon pricing. It has now been thrown into doubt.
We need to find a way, as Canadians, to address this. It would have been very fair in the fall economic statement, for example, for the to step forward and say that we are dealing with two very major crises in our country right now. We have an unprecedented climate catastrophe unfolding, which is something the Conservatives pretend does not exist. This climate catastrophe dislocated over 200,000 people this summer alone. It is a climate catastrophe that has now impacted over 60% of Canadian small businesses. People are frightened about what the future holds, and they want to know that a burning planet can be addressed through policies that force down the use of fossil fuel emissions. They expect that from us.
Instead, from the Conservatives, they get a party platform of climate denial. They are told not to worry that the planet is burning; Conservatives are going to make fossil fuel burning free for everybody. As the city of Kelowna was burning, we had the MP for that region not standing up for the people but standing up for this myth that burning carbon fuels was somehow going to be good for everybody. That is a failure of leadership and of our responsibility to tell people the truth of what we are facing right now in an unprecedented climate catastrophe. It is also a failure to the planet.
It could have been perfectly fair, in the fall economic statement, for the to say that we are dealing with an unprecedented climate catastrophe, and we need to make sure the policies we have in place work. One of the policies Liberals sold the country is carbon pricing.
It would have been equally fair for the to say that we are dealing with an unprecedented crisis. Liberals call it “affordability”, but as my colleague from pointed out, it is a much deeper and more troubling crisis, a crisis of people unable to heat their homes and feed their families.
The could have said that we are going to find a way across this country to take some pressure off. To do that, it would have been a reasonable suggestion to say that we are going to take the GST-HST off home heating. Why? It is not a luxury to heat one's home in Canada, particularly in regions like mine that go to -45°C and sometimes -50°C. It is not a luxury. This is not wasteful spending on behalf of citizens. This is about keeping families alive.
To take the GST off would have affected people across the country and it would have been fair, but the Liberal government did not do that. It opted to focus on home heating oil, which certainly is a very problematic fuel that we need to address. It also is a fuel that tends to be used by people in more rural and poor regions who cannot afford to switch.
The way it was laid out was so cynical. It was about defending beleaguered Liberal MPs in Atlantic Canada. It sent a very clear message that the 's focus was on keeping his MPs above the water line and not responding to the needs of Canadians, so it was not a credible plan. It has pitted region against region. It has raised serious questions about whether the has an environmental plan to deal with the climate crisis. It also raises questions about the whole pitch of carbon pricing.
Canadians were told that this was going to be a fundamental feature. New Democrats have argued with the government on carbon pricing over the years. We have said that we need to make the big polluters pay, the people who are actually damaging the planet and destroying our kids' future. They are the ones who should be paying. Senior citizens who have to heat their homes in rural northern Ontario are not responsible for the climate crisis.
There needs to be a balance. The across-the-board imposition raised real questions about fairness. What we ended up having in this situation is that one group of people is being exempted. We are hearing all kinds of positive reasons for it, but the fundamental issue it is coming down to is they were being exempted because they are in regions represented by Liberals who are afraid about their future. That is not good enough.
We have said all along that it should have been the GST from the get-go. We know the Conservatives voted against our attempt to take off the GST from heating because that would have covered people across the country.
What the Conservatives have brought to us today is another way of dividing region against region, because they know that if we just take the carbon tax off, it is not going to mean anything for people in British Columbia who are still paying heating bills. They are not covered by the carbon tax because they are under cap and trade, and neither are people in Quebec because Quebec is under cap and trade. One part of the country will have taxes taken off their heating and another part of the country will not.
If we are going to talk about the climate crisis and affordability, we have to put in place measures that are not ad hoc or gotcha moments, but measures that address the difficulties we are facing across the board.
To that, New Democrats have said time and time again that the people who are making the pollution have to be the ones paying. Rich Kruger, the CEO of Suncor, said there is a sense of urgency right now, as our planet is burning, for the big oil industry to make as much money as possible, as they are firing workers, as they are moving to automation and as they are doing stock buybacks. They could be paying the greater share for carbon pricing. We can take efforts to make sure that this is across the board and fair.
If we are going to stop pitting region against region, I would like to move the following amendment: “That, the motion be amended by adding after the words 'all forms of home heating', the following: 'and to eliminate the GST on home heating in provinces where no federal carbon tax is in place'.”
That would be fair across the board.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for . I would like to begin today by reading our motion so that folks at home and here in the House know exactly what we are debating today. It reads:
That, given that the government has announced a “temporary, three-year pause” to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.
It is not that complicated. It is a reasonable, common-sense, fair-minded motion. That is what we are asking for today, and at the vote on Monday. We will see what members of the House do. I am sure those at home will be watching very carefully how each member of Parliament votes on this.
The gave it to some, and now he needs to give it to everyone. I have been in politics a long time, behind the scenes and now on these benches. I have seen rising stars and good public servants. I have seen careers come to an end in good ways and in ways that were truly ugly.
However, I have never witnessed a climbdown as utterly humiliating and so blatantly transparent as the one we saw from the Prime Minister. A government that has spent eight years forcing its carbon tax, its signature policy, on Canadians, insisting that it was good for the environment, that it would not make life more unaffordable and that it was the right thing to do, and anyone who said otherwise must be a climate change denier or dangerous to the future, now admits that the carbon tax causes misery for Canadians. This is all while it is failing to meet its own emissions target, and just months after the Liberals, along with their NDP abetters, voted down the motion to remove the carbon tax from home heating. We cannot make this stuff up.
For eight years, the Liberals ignored the science. They ignored the feedback from businesses, which decided to close up shop or move south, and they ignored the cries from everyday Canadians who could not put food on the table or gas in the car, or heat their homes. The Liberals caused pain and suffering for the economy, for small businesses, and for people who made sacrifices, such as took an extra job or went bankrupt, because of the high inflation caused by runaway deficits and, yes, the carbon tax.
What has changed? The science has not change. The affordability crisis has certainly not changed, although it gets worse every day the Liberals continue to make policy from that side of the House.
Conservatives are now threatening to sweep Atlantic Canada and the future aspirations of the Liberal MPs sitting across the aisle. This announcement is a slap in the face to all Canadians who endured eight years of the hardship of everyone else and who was told that questioning it was somehow un-Canadian and, in some way, was somehow denying climate change.
The Liberal-NDP government now admits that it can take the carbon tax off whenever it pleases. It could have done it a year ago, and it could have done it any day in between.
It gets even worse than that because only certain regions get a break. It is only on certain types of fuel and only for some Canadians. What adds insult to injury is that many provinces still have to pay the carbon tax. These are the people who have to heat their homes with natural gas or electricity, the people who have to drive in a car to work and buy groceries at a store. This move would help 3% of Canadians, while everyone else remains in the literal cold. It will fundamentally threaten our national unity and our constituents' faith in the federal government, if there is any left at all.
We already have provinces refusing to collect the federal carbon tax. We even have provincial NDP governments or opposition parties across the country speaking out against their federal counterparts. If we ask any Liberal why this happened, they ramble on about some national program, some agenda, some public policy. They will fearmonger about questions being dangerous to democracy. It is such utter nonsense.
Even though home heating oil is more polluting and more costly than regular heating, they are now incentivizing it. It makes no sense. The Liberals gave the impression that this was all planned, and I find it hard to believe their , who used to so vigorously defend his carbon tax, planned out the humiliating climbdown that we saw last Thursday afternoon in the lobby of this place.
It was forced, plain and simple, and it was forced by a group of Atlantic MPs, who are running scared, and a government that is scared of the most effective official opposition on this point, and on many others. The , the minister from in Newfoundland, was more candid in her remarks. She actually told the truth. She said that if people just voted Liberal more, they too might have a chance at getting the exemption.
Now we know that anything else those members opposite say is simply partisan spin. It is simply for vote-buying. They are trying to win votes and they are even doing that poorly. My neighbours in the GTA have some questions for the . She has gone radio silent since Sunday.
This is the largest concentration of Liberals anywhere in the country. I am surrounded. I will not be for long, but I am surrounded for now, yet their voters, Canadians, still pay a carbon tax at the pump, at the grocery store and when they heat their homes. That is everyone around me.
Why are they not as effective as the Liberal Atlantic caucus? Maybe they do not feel that threatened. I assure members that the poll numbers are certainly following there.
The government just must not have strong enough MPs from the region, who do not listen to their own constituents, the people from there, about the affordability crisis or the need to at least alleviate some of that pain. They are MPs in places such as Thunder Bay and , places where it is cold, and they are not good enough advocates for their own constituents to get the exact same break that they have offered to those in Atlantic Canada.
Those Canadians have been let down by their representatives and they have been let down by the costly coalition. They are continuing to be let down. I can assure members opposite that there will be much fewer Liberals on the other side of the House after the next election.
If the costly coalition can remove the carbon tax for some Canadians, then they can remove it for all Canadians. The once said that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. It is time for him to start acting like it too. That is why we are here today, to make this costly coalition put its money where its mouth is. If they truly cared about affordability, about the cost-of-living, then they would take the carbon tax off for everyone, everywhere.
We know they can do that because they admitted it. The admitted it just outside of the doors in this place, and it is his signature policy.
We know that we have more to do, long-term, because lying just behind this announcement, waiting in the wings, is a quadrupling of the carbon tax for all Canadians, bringing more misery and that high carbon hypocrisy that we see so often from the Liberals and from their NDP betters.
A “pause” is not good enough. That should be said in the House. A regional model is not good enough. The carbon tax must be killed for everyone and forever.
There is a clear choice here. The only option is to axe the carbon tax entirely. Conservatives are the only party that would bring that to Canadians, no more pitting regions against one another, no more temporary pause, no more quadrupling of the tax, only a massive tax cut, plain and simple. We would get rid of the carbon tax, and we would do it when we are elected.
We are even willing to fight that election over it. In fact, we dare the to go to the polls so that Canadians can have their say. They can choose to quadruple the carbon tax after this pause for 3% of Canadians, or they can choose to axe the tax. We know what they will pick.
This week is not just humiliating because the flip-flopped on his signature policy. It was humiliating because even Liberals are beginning to see that he is just not worth the cost. These are Liberal leaders such as future leader Mark Carney, who split with the government on this policy, and Liberals such as Senator Percy Downe, the insider’s insider, who used to be chief of staff to former prime minister Jean Chrétien. He says that it is time for the Prime Minister to go. That is a ringing endorsement.
After eight years, he has divided this country between urban versus rural, rich versus those who are struggling, and vaccinated against the unvaccinated. He has left us poorer and weaker at home and less respected abroad. This flip-flop is just their latest attempt at failure. It is their latest attempt to make one plus one equal three. I have a feeling that it will not be their last.
It is fitting that the first snowfall of the year happened this week in Ottawa. Perhaps the should go take a walk in it.
Madam Speaker, “given that the government has announced a 'temporary, three-year pause' to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.” This is a reasonable, common-sense and fair-minded motion.
Again, “given that the government has announced a 'temporary, three-year pause' to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.” That is what Conservatives are asking for today and with the vote on Monday. The gave to some; now he needs to give to all.
Poll after poll has shown that the affordability crisis, aided by the government's poor fiscal mismanagement, is top of mind for all Canadians. Conversations I am having with the people of Hastings—Lennox and Addington are consistent, that the high price of food, fuel, rent and interest on mortgages is staggering. We realize that the relief from the cost of living is what Canadians not only want but need, and the quickest and most effective way to do that is to roll back the Liberals' burdensome carbon tax plan that is closer to a revenue-raising measure than an actual carbon reduction plan.
When I say that scrapping the Liberal carbon tax will have immediate positive results for struggling Canadians, I do not say that without backing. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem told parliamentarians that removing the carbon tax would result in an immediate drop in inflation, helping to ease the financial burden weighing down Canadian families.
The Conservative opposition has tried numerous times, through opposition day motions in this place, to stem the increasing tide of the affordability, and every time the Liberal-NDP government voted against them. On September 28, we moved a motion to introduce legislation to repeal the carbon tax, and the government voted against it. On June 1, we moved a motion to cancel the second carbon tax, and the government voted against it. On December 8, 2022, we moved a motion to eliminate the carbon tax on food, and the government voted against it.
It is extremely clear to anyone who has been paying attention that the government has historically had a deep loathing to alter its carbon scheme in any way.
Suffice to say, when the announced a temporary three-year pause to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, many of us wondered why now. Why has the government taken this small step in the right direction after years of dogged ideological refusal to support common-sense motions proposed by the official opposition?
The answer can be found splashed across the newspapers of the nation, but allow me to cite everyone's favourite pollster, Mr. Fournier, who said that if there was an election held today, according to 338, the Liberal Party under the would win a staggering 80 seats. One out of every two sitting members of the government would not be coming back.
The only reason that the government is starting to break away from its near cult-like devotion to the Prime Minister's carbon tax is because it is now politically expedient to do so. It is doing it now because it knows, and always knew, it was what Canadians wanted and what Canadians needed, but Canadians had a problem because it was not what the Prime Minister wanted, until now.
With what I am sure was much gnashing of teeth at the cabinet table, the Liberals' free fall in the polls has forced them to make a political calculus, a bend in their deeply unpopular urban-centred climate change policy in exchange for at least some public support come election time, particularly in Liberal seat-rich Atlantic Canada where the majority of heating oil is used. I would like to applaud the Atlantic Liberal caucus for what I am sure was a spirited effort to secure even this small concession from the leadership. I find it curious why those same concessions were not given to other areas heated by different methods.
For instance, why did the fail to include electric heating from these measures, which is the most popular source of heating in British Columbia, where Mr. Fournier predicts only four of 11 members of his caucus would return, or natural gas for Ontarians, where only 30 members are slated to see the 45th Parliament? However, I have good news for my Liberal colleagues across the way. The member for just tabled a motion that would directly help the other 97% of Canadians who are struggling to pay their heating bills, like those using propane, natural gas, electric or wood stoves, which are especially frequent in rural communities.
This is not to say that a federal government does not have a role to play in combatting climate change and that industry and Canadians should do their very best to lower their carbon emissions. The federal government absolutely has a role to play as measured environmental stewards, but having the government take the wallets of Canadians hostage to do this is a terrible way to go about it.
Once again, Tiff Macklem reiterated that the carbon tax disproportionately hurt the lower class, the poor, the infirm and those on social assistance. They cannot undertake the extreme lifestyle changes necessary to have any measurable effect. Not everyone is an investment banker or a lobbyist. The vast majority of Canadians are struggling, and the Liberal-NDP government needs to open its eyes and realize this.
I would like to take an opportunity to quickly highlight another time tested and true Liberal Party method of raising money, which the government has borrowed from its Chrétien era ancestors, and that is raiding and pillaging from the budget and pockets of the Canadian Armed Forces.
At a time when CAF members are using food banks and begging for donations to pay rent, resulting in morale, recruitment and retention dipping to an all-time low, what does the government do? It slashes their benefits and cuts a billion dollars from the defence budget, something it specifically said it would not do in the 2023 budget. This does not even touch on the billions of lapsed spending this Parliament approved, which was never used on the CAF, but rather was skimmed off into some other project. It is shameful and it is the exact opposite of what needs to be done to address the numerous severe crises facing our armed forces.
My riding is immense, stretching from Amherst Island, where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River, along the shores of the Bay of Quinte to Belleville and northward to the Hastings Highlands at the edge of Algonquin Park. Whenever I get a chance, I love to travel through the riding to meet the awesome and amazing people we have there.
During my conversations with my constituents, what I find, as I am sure many others in this place find, is that despite inflation, despite high taxes and despite rising interest rates, our people are resilient and determined to carry forward and make better lives for themselves and their families. However, its getting harder.
Whether it is at local fall fairs or celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Lennox & Addington County General Hospital volunteer auxiliary, it is our people who make us strong. We cannot lose sight of the fact that it is these people who sent us here to do our jobs. It is our role to advocate for them.
My constituents are overwhelmingly hard-working farmers, forestry workers, tradesmen, seniors, small business owners and young families juggling the chaos of life. They pay their federal taxes, their provincial taxes and their municipal and education taxes. However, after eight years, they need a break from a government and a who believe big bureaucracy can spend us into prosperity using their hard tax dollars.
After eight years, they need a break from a who thinks he deserves over $600,000 for three vacations on the backs of taxpayers. After eight years, they need a break from the free spending and her jet-setting boss, who travels around the world preaching virtues and values that he and his government fail to uphold.
Will the members opposite find it in their hearts to rein in the runaway spending of their leadership and give my constituents, their constituents and all Canadians a break? If not, will they please step aside and let a common-sense Conservative government show them how to balance a budget and tackle climate change and still deliver services effectively and efficiently to Canadians who so desperately need it to.
Madam Speaker, as always, it is a wonderful opportunity for me to speak on behalf of the residents of my riding of Davenport in the debate we have before us today. The debate is on an opposition motion, which I will read out so people who watch this will know what I am talking about. It reads: “given that the government has announced a ‘temporary, three-year pause’ to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.”
I do not think members will be surprised when I say that the government will not be supporting the motion, and I am very happy to explain why.
I will be sharing my time with the very hon. member for .
Today's motion from the hon. does not provide context on what is happening in Canada today around home heating, inflation and the federal government's aggressive plan to decarbonize and to meet both our 2030 and 2050 targets. Indeed, the way the motion is phrased, it is easy for any Canadian who is reading it to misunderstand what the federal government's actions are. In today's case, the motion is based on the misconception that all forms of home heating have the same cost to the consumer, which is not the case.
Late last week, the government took action to temporarily pause the application of the federal fuel charge to heating oil, not because it is a source of home heating but because it is the most expensive form of home heating. It is important to note that the vast majority of those who use heating oil are among the lowest-income Canadians today. We know that lower-income Canadians face particular hardship, particularly with the high cost of inflation today, and we know that there is little to no money for anything extra beyond the basic living costs. Low-income and rural residents have been trapped in a vicious cycle where they are stuck having to pay for the most expensive form of home heating, the cost of which is preventing them from investing in cleaner, more affordable forms of home heating.
I am pleased to let members know that, last week, the made an announcement on our new energy affordability package. I will go through some of the basics, because I think it is very relevant to the debate we are having today. The government is moving ahead with doubling the pollution price rebate, or what we call the “climate action incentive payment”, to our rural community, increasing it from 10% to 20% of the baseline amount, starting in April 2024. We know that people who live in rural communities face unique realities, and this measure will help put even more money back in the pockets of families dealing with higher energy costs because they live outside large urban cities.
The federal government is also moving ahead with a temporary, three-year pause to the federal price on pollution on deliveries of heating oil in all jurisdictions where the federal fuel charge is in effect. It is important for me to stress that this would be applied right across Canada. This pause would begin in less than two weeks. While the fuel charge is already returned to consumers through the pollution price rebate, this temporary pause would save a household that uses heating oil $250 at the current rate, on average, while the federal government works with provinces to roll out heat pumps and phase out oil for heating over the longer term.
A final part of the announcement is that the federal government has said it will work with provinces and territories to help Canadians save money over the long term by making it easier to switch to an electric heat pump to heat their home. We announced a number of measures that will be piloted first in Atlantic Canada, and we truly hope that other provinces and territories will sign on moving forward. The targeted action we are taking with our new energy affordability package will break that vicious cycle and save rural Canadians thousands of dollars a year over the long term while allowing us to continue to move as aggressively as possible towards our climate action targets and decarbonizing our economy.
The pause on the fuel charge on heating oil, in concert with our strengthened oil-to-heat-pump affordability program, will create a window of opportunity for people to make the switch to cheaper, cleaner heat. With our strengthened oil-to-heat-pump affordability program, we are partnering with provinces and territories to increase the amount of federal funding that eligible homeowners can receive for installing a heat pump, from $10,000 to $15,000, adding up to an additional $5,000 in grant funding to match provincial and territorial contributions via codelivery arrangements. This would make the average heat pump and installation free for low- to medium-income households as we continue to minimize upfront costs and make federal programs even easier to access for all households.
On average, homeowners who switch from oil to cold-climate heat pumps in order to heat and cool their homes save up to $2,500 per year on home energy bills. I think that is a very important point to keep stressing, because heating oil is one of the most polluting forms of home heat. Making this switch will not only help protect Canadians from the costs associated with climate change over the long term but also help to reduce emissions, which is what we are trying to do as we move toward our climate targets.
Make no mistake: these costs are real. As confirmed by science and research, the costs of anthropogenic climate change, which is primarily driven by carbon pollution, will be devastating. The Canadian Climate Institute concluded that climate change is already costing Canadian households billions of dollars, and that these costs are just the tip of the iceberg. In its 2020 report on climate risks and their implications for the insurance industry in Canada, the Insurance Bureau of Canada concluded that the average annual severe weather claims paid by insurers in Canada could more than double over the next 10 years, increasing from $2.1 billion a year to $5 billion a year, and must be accompanied by an increase in premiums.
These are billions of dollars in costs that will need to be borne by Canadians. That is why the government has put a price on carbon pollution since 2019 to ensure that polluting is no longer free. Putting a price on carbon pollution reduces emissions and encourages innovation. It encourages reductions across the economy while giving households and businesses the flexibility to decide when and how to make changes. It creates incentives for Canadian businesses to develop and adopt new low-carbon products, processes and services.
To ensure that the system is both effective and affordable, the bulk of proceeds from the price on carbon pollution go straight back into the pockets of Canadians in provinces where the fuel charge applies, with eight out of 10 Canadians in these provinces continuing to get more money back through the climate action incentive payments than they pay as a result of the carbon price. In provinces where the federal system applies, a family of four can now receive up to $1,500 a year under our plan. This means that our climate plan is both effective and affordable. Our new energy affordability package will make it even more so by supporting the transition to cleaner and cheaper forms of home heating.
I believe it is important to say that making it free to pollute will not save Canadians money. It will cost them money in the long run, while endangering Canadians and jeopardizing the natural environment we all depend on. There are better ways to make life more affordable for Canadians, without destroying the environment and incurring more devastating costs farther down the road. We can do so by delivering support where it is most effective and to those who need it most. This has guided our actions from day one. This includes supporting about 3.5 million families annually through the tax-free Canada child benefit, with families this year receiving up to $7,437 per child under the age of six and up to $6,275 per child aged six to 17. It includes increasing old age security benefits for seniors age 75 and older by 10% as of July 2022, which is providing more than $800 in additional support to full pensioners. It also includes reducing fees for regulated child care by 50% on average, delivering regulated child care that will cost an average of just $10-a-day by 2026.
These are the right ways to make life more affordable. Extending the fuel charge pause to sources that are far cheaper and less polluting than fuel oil, as proposed by today’s motion, is not the right way to make life affordable. I therefore call on the House to reject today’s motion, as the government continues working with its partners in all provinces and territories to explore further options to lower the cost of energy bills for all Canadians while also lowering emissions and fighting climate change.
Madam Speaker, the CPC motion is to drop the carbon tax not only on oil temporarily but also on all heating fuels temporarily.
Believe it or not, I actually have friends in the Conservative Party, who I think like me through my sometimes philandering political ways. My friends in the Conservative Party may be surprised to hear I actually approve of the carbon tax, and I am in favour of the announced Maritime exemptions.
The took the rather unusual step of appearing on Thunder Bay TV a few days ago in order to tell the people of Thunder Bay that the members of Parliament for Thunder Bay are basically useless because we did not get the same kind of exemption for natural gas and propane as the people in the Maritimes got for oil. Now, people all across Canada get the exemption for oil.
In response to what the had to say to this motion, let me start off by saying, and I think this is really important, most people know that 80% of people actually get back as much as, or more than, they pay in carbon tax. In addition, people in rural areas get 10% on top of that. Now, because of this announcement, that will be going up to 20%, including in northern Ontario. That is certainly justified because people in rural areas are often dependent on fossil fuels. They have further to commute, and they cannot resort to using mass transit. I am in favour of all those things.
Why is the present plan withholding carbon tax on only oil and not on other fuels? There are good reasons for that, and I am going to talk about four reasons.
First, the cost of heating one's house with oil is more expensive than with other fuels, particularly in the Maritimes. I want to mention some figures from a recent CBC report on the subject. Home heating oil in P.E.I., with the carbon tax, costs $47.87 per gigajoule of heat energy. Propane in Ontario costs $39.33 with the carbon tax. Natural gas in Saskatchewan is $12.09.
To reiterate, that is a total of $48 for oil and down to $43 if we do not include the carbon tax, which we are removing. Propane is around $39, and natural gas is around $12. The bottom line is that people who heat with oil have to pay a lot more to heat their homes than people who heat with other fuels.
Second, there are other differences with oil. One is the fact that oil produces more greenhouse gases than other fuels. The best is natural gas, and the second best is propane. In terms of low-hanging fruit, the best bang for one's buck is to get people off oil and into a green transition.
Third, because the carbon tax is based on tonnes of CO2 produced, and oil produces the most CO2, the amount of carbon tax paid on oil is higher than on the other fuels.
Lastly, and this is an important one, when a lot of older homes were built, they had oil furnaces in them. As I grew up in Kaministiquia, outside of Thunder Bay, we had an oil furnace.
In the years since the 1960s and 1970s, a lot of people have transitioned to cheaper forms of fuel. The people who have not are often the people who could not afford to transition, and that leaves us in the ironic situation that the people who are least able to afford the fuel will have to pay the most. Both my party and I are not unsympathetic to such people, and that is why we are dropping the carbon tax for a limited period of time for those people.
In terms of a long-term solution for people on oil, certainly heat pumps are part of the solution. As oil is dirtier, getting those people to transition to green sources of heating is certainly something that is desirable from an environmental perspective. We already have a program that offers $10,000 for low- and middle-income families in order to buy heat pumps.
In addition to that, and this is the one difference in what people in the Maritimes are getting that we are not getting in Ontario, they are also getting an additional $10,000, which is $5,000 from the province and $5,000 from the federal government, if they want to put in a heat pump. That is because those provinces agreed to do it. If Ontario wanted to do it, I am told we, too, in Ontario could.
I think this is important: The Conservative Party is not just suggesting a temporary pause on the carbon tax on heating fuels. It wants to get rid of the carbon tax altogether. It wants to axe the tax. Frankly, I do not agree with that, and I find it a little difficult to believe. Why does it want to get rid of the carbon tax when, in fact, a lot of Conservative economists actually think the carbon tax is one of the most efficient ways, if not the most efficient way, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
Furthermore, a lot of Conservative economists like it because it is a market-based intervention rather than a regulatory intervention. Some of the many, perhaps they are not Conservative, but they are not really left-leaning, institutions that approve of carbon tax and carbon pricing include the American Enterprise Institute, a centre-right American think tank.
In 2009, in response to the question, “[What is] the better approach to climate change?” Its answer was, “A direct tax placed on emissions of greenhouse gases. The tax would create a market price for carbon emissions and lead to emissions reductions or new technologies that cut greenhouse gases.”
Of note, in 2023, like some other Conservatives, it seems to have changed its position.
Some other groups, again, not exactly left-leaning institutions, that support carbon tax are the World Bank in 2023, the Business Council of Canada in 2019 and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in 2021. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, in a 2018 endorsement, said, “Carbon pricing is probably the most effective mechanism of emissions reduction.”
Subsequent to this, it emphasized that the carbon tax should be flexible and competitive. Certainly with this, we are seeing some flexibility.
Even the Conservative Party, in the last election, ran on a platform that included a carbon tax. I know that members of the Conservative Party deeply believe in their convictions, but it appears that when the political winds blow another way, their convictions seem to blow away, too, and they have to come up with new convictions. Now, they actually oppose it.
I am somewhat shocked by the Conservative opposition to the carbon tax, particularly given what would seem to be the almost daily climate-related calamities we hear about, both in Canada and around the world. For example, a heat dome in B.C. recently killed over 600 people, mostly elderly people. Wildfires burned down the town of Lytton, B.C. and forced the evacuation of people in Alberta, Northwest Territories and—
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak today. I will be splitting my time with the member for .
The motion we are debating today is, “That, given that the government has announced a 'temporary, three-year pause' to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.” What could be more fair? This is a reasonable, common-sense and fair-minded motion that addresses the concerns that we are all hearing from our constituents as the cost of living continues to rise under the government.
I will repeat the motion, which says, “That, given that the government has announced a 'temporary, three-year pause' to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.” The motion is simply asking for fairness for all Canadians, regardless of the region or the way they choose to heat their homes.
All of us in this House and all Canadians, especially Atlantic Canadians, are acutely aware of what happened with the . He brought in a carbon tax that hurts working people, single mothers and families that are trying to make ends meet. It hurts people who get up early in the morning and drive to work in their vehicles. It hurts parents who take their kids to a hockey game. It hurts families that are trying to put food on the table. It hurts senior citizens on fixed incomes who are trying to heat their homes.
All members have heard from their constituents about the damage that is being done by the carbon tax. The was about to hold an axe-the-tax rally in Atlantic Canada, in the province of Nova Scotia. I have been to rallies before where many people are very concerned about the carbon tax and are very enthusiastic about the Conservative Party's plan to axe the carbon tax, to make life more affordable, to give Canadians back a little more of the money that they work so hard to earn.
The and his Atlantic members of Parliament have been steadfast in voting in favour of the carbon tax every single time. It is funny that when it was the constituents of Atlantic Liberal members who were suffering losses, those members did not stand up to the Prime Minister. Their constituents called them, and we know these calls are coming in. Their constituents said that they do not know how they will pay their heating bills or put gas in their cars, that they have to choose whether to buy groceries for their kids or heat their homes. We know that is happening. It is happening in Atlantic Canada. It is happening throughout Canada.
The Liberal members of Parliament in Atlantic Canada and the , when the tables were turned, and the numbers were not looking so good, realized that their jobs were on the line. Forget their constituents, when those members saw this could cost them something, it got their attention. The very day the was in Nova Scotia for an axe-the-tax rally, the Liberals crassly announced this completely transparent proposal to freeze the carbon tax on home heating oil only.
In my province of New Brunswick, 90% of homes are not heated with home heating oil. This does not apply to those people. We are hearing other Liberal members throughout the country asking about their constituents and what is going to happen to them in the next election. Every Atlantic Canadian knows that the and Liberal members have voted to make their lives tougher. Every one of us knows mortgage payments have gone up, that the cost of groceries has gone up, that the cost of fuel has gone up, that people are being taxed every step of the way. Conservatives can see right through this panicked reaction. If it were not so sad, it would be laughable.
There is this increase the government has given to rural areas. Let us talk about rural New Brunswick. If someone is a tenured professor or a provincial bureaucrat living downtown in the city of Fredericton, the capital city of New Brunswick, they get the rural top-up. If someone lives in my riding in the village of St. Martins, with a population under 300, they could have a 100-kilometre round trip commute to work in Saint John. It is truly a rural community. Elgin, New Brunswick, has a population under 200. It is an over 100-kilometre commute to the city of Moncton for work. It is truly a rural community. They do not get the rural top-up. That is how twisted the Liberal proposal is and how little the Liberals understand the needs of New Brunswickers and the needs of rural Canadians.
As he watches his support drop to new lows, the is now trying to rebrand himself, very transparently, as a hero for Atlantic Canadians living in rural communities. This is a frantic attempt to slow down the support for our axing the tax movement. The Prime Minister announced a slight increase to the rural rebate but is applying it to urban centres. People living with the high cost of fuel, the high cost of groceries and the high cost of heating their homes are getting no relief whatsoever.
That is why it is heartening to see from coast to coast to coast different provinces standing up and saying that now is the time to axe the carbon tax, that now is the time to help people. Everyone recognizes this. Everyone recognizes it, except for the and his Liberal caucus.
I know this drives Liberals crazy, but how often have we all seen the get into his motorcade and jet off to some other country to preach about his virtue—