The Conservatives continued to call out the Liberals for their stance on Bill C-234
By Diego Flammini
The Conservatives took multiple opportunities during question period last week to ask the Liberals about passing Bill C-234 and removing the carbon tax completely to provide farmers and Canadians with relief.
On Dec. 4, Jasraj Singh Hallan, the Conservative MP for Calgary Forest Lawn, was the first to ask such a question in the House.
The prime minister “refuses to tell senators to stand down and pass the common-sense Conservative bill, Bill C-234, which would take the tax off our farmers,” he said, before asking when the government would remove the tax.
Adam van Koeverden, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of sport and minister of environment, responded by reminding the House that the Senate is independent.
When Singh Hallan asked the same question, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson responded.
Minister Wilkinson read quotes from the Conservative Party platforms from 2008 and 2021 which outlined ideas for a price on pollution.
John Barlow, the Conservative ag critic, also brought up Bill C-234.
He provided an example of the Kielstra farm in Okotoks, which paid $180,000 in carbon taxes in 2023, and how that will rise to $480,000 in carbon taxes.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay fielded Barlow’s question.
He reminded Canadians that the Liberals have a plan for the environment, but the Conservatives don’t. And that the Liberals plan allows the government helps farmers “innovate, increase their production, and make sure farmers remain on the cutting edge.”
Barlow followed up by saying farmers pay more in carbon taxes than for the fuels they’re using and accused the prime minister of blocking Bill C-234 from passing in the Senate.
MacAulay’s rebuttal reminded the House that “the only party in the House that has any control over senators is the Conservative Party of Canada,” and reiterated the government’s support for farmers.
Luc Berthold, the Conservative MP for Mégantic—L'Érable, asked when the government would pass Bill C-234 to lower the cost of groceries for Canadians.
Karina Gould, the government House leader, replied.
She said if Conservatives supported the free trade agreement with Ukraine, that would result in lower grocery costs.
Also, during the Dec. 4 question period, Lianne Rood, the Conservative MP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, brought up Bill C-234.
She asked when the government would eliminate the carbon tax for farmers and Canadians when everyone is asking for them to do so.
Adan van Koeverden responded to Rood’s question with a reminder of actions the government has taken to support farmers, like exempting gas and diesel from the carbon tax, and doubling the rural top-up rebate.
Rood’s second attempt at asking the government to remove the carbon tax included a story of a farm in her riding. A chicken farmer named Brian paid more than $16,000 in carbon taxes to heat two barns.
Minister MacAulay replied to Rood.
He said the Conservatives have no plan for the environment, and that the Liberal plan allows the government to work with farmers and make funding announcements like in Manitoba for living labs.
Gérard Deltell, the Conservative MP for Louis-Saint-Laurent, also asked when the government will do away with the carbon tax for farmers and families.
Élisabeth Brière, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of families, responded by saying the government has invested in programs to help Canadians.
Damien Kurek, the Conservative MP for Battle River-Crowfoot, also asked a carbon tax and Bill C-234 question on Dec. 4.
He cited a chicken farmer near Redwater, Alta., who pays about $2,000 per month in carbon taxes.
Minister MacAulay responded by repeating that the Conservatives don’t have a plan for the environment, but the Liberals do.
“We have to deal with the environment,” he said. “Because we do have a plan for the environment, we are able to assist chicken farmers. We are able to make sure that the supply management system remains in place.”
Kurek’s follow-up question included an example from Vermeer’s Dairy near Camrose, which paid $1,700 in carbon taxes in one month.
Minister MacAulay’s response suggested his office has been “in regular contact with the farm of which (Kurek) spoke out,” he said. “The operation has benefited from seven of our government programs, including the BRM program and funding through the climate action incentive fund.”
Joël Godin, the Conservative MP for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, asked if the government would “listen to common sense,” and remove the carbon tax for farmers and families.
Adam van Koeverden’s response reminded the House that there is no federal tax on carbon for Quebec farmers. And he highlighted government measures to support farmers, including returning “$120 million to farmers in the past year.”
On Dec. 5, the Conservatives again wanted answers from the Liberals about whether the government would remove the carbon tax on farmers and the rest of Canada.
Conservative MPs Tracy Gray (Kelowna-Lake Country), Leslyn Lewis (Haldimand-Norfolk) and Gérard Deltell (Louis-Saint-Laurent), asked in an exchange with Liberal MPs.
Jenna Sudds, the minister of families, said the government will continue to invest in programs to help families.
And Adam van Koeverden reminded the House that Conservatives ran an election platform on a price on pollution, and that most Canadians get back more in rebates than what they pay in carbon tax.
Another carbon tax exchange occurred between Conservative MP Jeremy Patzer (Cypress Hills-Grasslands) and Minister MacAulay.
Citing a report from APAS outlining farmers will spend more than $40 million in carbon taxes to get grains to port, Patzer asked why the government won’t just axe the tax.
Minister MacAulay responded by saying farmers are concerned the Conservatives don’t have a plan for the environment.
Patzer followed up saying farmers are leaders in environmental stewardship, and that removing the carbon tax could help farmers hire an extra body or use that money to repair machinery.
MacAulay responded saying that farmers know the effects of climate change, that’s why they want a government that has a plan to address environmental issues.
Rosemarie Falk, the Conservative MP for Battlefords-Lloydminster, also asked when the prime minister would remove the carbon tax.
Minister Sudds cited government investments that help families and address food insecurity.
Ben Lobb, the Conservative MP for Huron-Bruce, who introduced Bill C-234 in the House of Commons originally, said a pork farmer in his area paid $4,300 for natural gas in February, and that $3,300 of that bill was carbon tax.
“How can any farmer make a living when farmers have to pay that much carbon tax on the natural gas they use on their farms?” he said.
Minister MacAulay responded by saying when climate events like 200km winds destroy barns and buildings, it adds to the price of food.
On Dec. 6, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and Prime Minister Trudeau went back and forth on multiple issues, including Bill C-234 and the carbon tax.
Poilievre asked the prime minister why he wanted to tax food before Christmas.
The prime minister said the only farming Conservatives are interested in is “rage farming,” and that his government will “always be there to support farmers.”
Conservative MPs Melissa Lantsman (Thornhill), Marilyn Gladu (Sarnia-Lambton) and Gérard Deltell, also posed carbon tax questions to Liberal MPs.
Gladu, for example, said the Conservatives will “fight until the Prime Minister decides to take the carbon tax off families, farmers and first nations.”
Karina Gould responded to Gladu’s question, reaffirming the Liberal support for producers.
“What we do on this side of the House is support farmers. We are going to be there for farmers,” she said. “We are going to be there for all Canadians like we have been since 2015. We are going to keep delivering for them.”
Conservative MPs Chris Warkentin (Grande Prairie-Mackenzie) and Damien Kurek also asked carbon pricing questions on Dec. 6.
Minister MacAulay responded to a question from Kurek, saying the Senate is independent and that the Liberals have a plan for the environment.
In response to that answer, Kurek said the prime minister is lying.
MPs aren’t allowed to use the word “lie” in the House of Commons.
Kurek received opportunities to retract. He chose not to and was asked to leave the House of Commons.
More Conservative MPs, Michael Kram (Regina-Wascana), Arnold Viersen (Peace River-Westlock), and Richard Lehoux (Beauce), asked if the government would remove the carbon tax on producers and Canadians.
Karina Gould said Conservatives should support the free trade agreement with Ukraine if they’re concerned about food prices.
Conservative MPs Pat Kelly (Calgary Rocky Ridge) and Terry Dowdall (Simcoe-Grey) wanted carbon tax answers too.
Dowdall asked why the prime minister won’t listen to Canadians and remove the tax from farmers and families struggling to get by.
Minister MacAulay fielded the question by reiterating what he hears across the country, which is concern from farmers that Conservatives don’t have a plan for the environment,
MacAulay provided a similar answer when asked by Kelly McCauley, the Conservative MP for Edmonton West.
Conservative MPs Frasier Tolmie (Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan), Glen Motz (Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner) and Bernard Généreux (Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup CPC), also used their question period time to ask about the carbon tax.
“If one ate today, they can thank a farmer,” Motz said during his question. “If one could not afford to eat today, they can thank these Liberals.”
Minister Wilkinson responded to Motz’s question, saying he should read a University of Calgary article that states most Canadians get back more in rebates than they pay in carbon taxes.
The first question of question period on Dec. 7 centred on the carbon tax.
Melissa Lantsman cited a report that grocery bills will go up by about $700 next year, and that Bill C-234 would help relieve Canadians of that extra cost.
“Will the Liberals finally listen to Canadians and vote with us to scrap the punishing carbon tax?”
Minister Wilkinson said the price on pollution is “both a climate measure and an affordability measure.”
Conservative MP Luc Berthold asked for carbon tax relief for farmers.
Minister Sudds said the government will do everything it can to support Canadian families.
Multiple Conservative MPs like Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle), Kyle Seeback (Dufferin-Caledon), and Joël Godin (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier), also put pressure on the government to scrap the carbon tax to help farmers and families.
No Liberal MP addressed their questions directly.
The same happened when Conservative MPs Shelby Kramp-Neuman (Hastings-Lennox and Addington) and Dan Mazier (Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa), Marc Dalton (Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge), Bob Zimmer (Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies), Anna Roberts (King-Vaughan) and Mel Arnold (North Okanagan-Shuswap) tried asking Liberals for carbon tax relief.
Dave Epp, the Conservative MP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington, also asked for the Liberals to axe the tax on farmers.
Minister MacAulay answered, saying the Liberal plan positions the government well to support environmental measures.
“With our plan, we are able to deal with the agricultural sector in clusters and with provincial governments right across the country to help farmers deal with climate change and become innovative,” he said.
The House of Commons didn’t sit on Dec. 8.