Advertisement

Poilievre kicks off debate on non-confidence motion on carbon tax

Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre rises during question period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (Spencer Colby/Canadian Press - image credit)
Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre rises during question period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (Spencer Colby/Canadian Press - image credit)

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre urged MPs Thursday to back his motion to topple the government over its planned increase to the carbon tax — a manoeuvre that's unlikely to succeed.

If the motion carries and a majority of MPs vote non-confidence in the government, this Parliament will be dissolved and the country will head into an election.

The Liberal government is expected to survive the vote because of its supply-and-confidence agreement with the NDP, which has agreed to prop up the governing party until 2025.

Poilievre may not be in the House of Commons later today when the motion faces its final vote. He's scheduled to be at a fundraiser in Toronto.

Poilievre kicked off the debate by painting a bleak picture of Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — a place where, he said, inflation has battered pocketbooks and some food bank shelves are empty as people scramble to cope with high inflation.

He argued the planned increase to the carbon tax will only make things worse.

The April 1 tax hike will increase the cost of fossil fuels; consumers are expected to pay about three cents more for a litre of gas than they do now.

The government's Canada carbon rebate is designed to make people whole for additional costs imposed by the carbon tax.

Ottawa sends quarterly cheques to families in the eight provinces where the federal tax is in place.

The tax, the centrepiece of the Liberal government's climate plan, makes oil, natural gas and propane and other fuels more expensive to encourage Canadians to choose cleaner, greener sources.

"We cannot in good conscience stand by while this prime minister imposes more misery and suffering on the Canadian people," Poilievre said.

He said MPs should pass the non-confidence motion to "restore this country we love."

The party's deputy leader, Melissa Lantsman, said Trudeau is carrying out a "war on the middle class."

Conservative Deputy Leader Melissa Lantsman asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.
Conservative Deputy Leader Melissa Lantsman asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.

Conservative deputy leader Melissa Lantsman accused the government of waging 'war on the middle class.' (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

She said the carbon tax isn't all that useful as a climate-fighting tool because Canada's emissions haven't declined meaningfully.

Canada's emissions ticked up slightly last year — an increase driven largely by higher emissions from oil and gas production.

The government maintains the country is still on track to meet its 2030 climate goal of reducing emissions by about 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

"The tax isn't worth the cost and neither is this prime minister," Lantsman said. "The Canadian people are tired of being taxed to death."

She said Liberal MPs and their NDP supporters "shouldn't be afraid to let Canadians have their say."

"Let Canadians weigh in," she said. "Have the guts to stand up and vote against their boss today."

Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux, the parliamentary secretary to government House leader, defended the carbon tax regime.

He said Conservatives are "spreading a lot of myths" about the levy.

Citing data reported by the Parliament Budget Officer (PBO), Lamoureux said "the reality is over 80 per cent of Canadians will receive more money back from the rebate than they are actually paying for a carbon tax."

He said dumping the carbon tax would "ruin" the rebate and leave some Canadians worse off.

"Why does the Conservative Party want to continue to mislead Canadians. Do they really think they're that stupid?" Lamoureux said. "They want to get Canadians upset — they want them mad."

He mocked the Conservatives over their opposition to the tax, pointing out that they campaigned on a carbon levy in the last federal election.

"Today's Conservative Party is a MAGA right-wing party," he said, citing former U.S. president Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

Lamoureux said the Conservatives aren't serious about the environment.

Poilievre pointed to a different PBO report on the carbon tax. That report said that when the knock-on economic effects of the levy are taken into account, most households actually see a net loss.

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

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

"Sixty per cent are paying more in carbon tax than they get back in rebates," Poiliere said, citing that report, which takes a more holistic view of the carbon tax and its impact.

"I've read this into the record time and time again."

NDP MP Charlie Angus said Poilievre is leaving "poor schleps" on the party's backbench to supposedly "bring down the government" while he's scheduled to be in Toronto at a fundraiser.

He said Poilievre lives in a "19-room mansion with his own private chef" — a reference to the leader of opposition's Ottawa home — and is no friend of the working class.

Angus said Poilievre has said nothing about price-gouging grocers or fuel refiners — entities the NDP blames for price increases.

"They are climate deniers. And there's a reason they're climate deniers — they don't have a plan because it doesn't fit on a bumper sticker," Angus said of the Conservatives.