Multiple exchanges about the carbon tax and its effects on agriculture occurred during question period
By Diego Flammini
MPs returned to Ottawa last week to begin the winter session of Parliament, meaning Farms.com is continuing its Ag in the House series.
Ag in the House will summarize the weekly exchanges related to agriculture in the House of Commons during question period.
This summary, to be released on Mondays, will include comments from the House of Commons hansard from Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, Conservative Agriculture Critic John Barlow and other Members of Parliament who ask and respond to questions about farmers and the ag sector.
Without any further delay, here’s where agriculture fit into question period last week.
On Jan. 30, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre asked two questions about the carbon tax and if Bill C-234 will get passed.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland provided responses but didn’t address either question directly.
Shannon Stubbs, the Conservative MP for Lakeland, also pressed the government to pass Bill C-234 to bring down production costs for farmers.
Freeland’s response indicated the Conservatives want to cut child and dental care, and take away the rebates Canadians get from the price on pollution.
When Stubbs asked a follow up question about the carbon tax, Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault answered, pointing to Alberta’s premier attending an event with Tucker Carlson.
Lianne Rood, the Conservative MP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, also pushed the government to pass Bill C-234.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay answered with his first comments of the winter session.
“Being a farmer, I fully understand taking steps to prepare the industry for the future,” he told the House of Commons. “That is why we invested, as a government, $1.5 billion to make sure our farmers, ranchers and processors are ready for the future. We are going to continue to make sure our farmers and ranchers remain on the cutting edge.”
MacAulay also answered Rood’s follow-up question about Bill C-234.
He said farmers understand the land and environment need to be taken care of to keep food prices down.
The Conservatives continued to call for carbon tax relief for farmers on Jan. 31.
Pierre Poilievre asked Prime Minister Trudeau how farmers like the Medeiros family in his riding, will pay the carbon tax when it goes up on April 1.
The prime minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to supporting farmers, reminding the House they’ve invested $1.5 billion over the past few years.
Poilievre then asked if the prime minister would at least delay his plan to increase the carbon tax, citing a report that says 60 per cent of Canadians pay more in carbon tax than they get in rebates.
Trudeau cited how the rebate cheques help support Canadians.
On Feb. 1, multiple MPs got into exchanges over the carbon tax and farmers.
Conservative MPs Andrew Scheer and John Barlow (the Conservative ag critic) asked for carbon tax relief for producers. Scheer said the Keilstra poultry farm in Okotkos will pay $480,000 in carbon taxes when it increases.
And Barlow said the Prairie Gold Produce farm in Alberta is currently paying $1,500 in carbon taxes per day.
Housing Minister Sean Fraser, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson all provided responses that either highlighted government support or criticized Conservatives for voting against supports.
In a separate exchange, Richard Lehoux, the Conservative MP for Beauce, asked if the government would cancel the April 1 carbon tax hike.
Minister Guilbeault responded by saying Conservatives don’t understand “that farmers are among the first to be affected by the impacts of climate change,” before highlighting how the price on pollution is working.
And Damien Kurek, the Conservative MP for Battle River-Crowfoot, pressed the government for carbon tax relief for farmers.
Minister MacAulay answered, pointing to the devastation Hurricane Fiona caused.
“Farmers woke up and went out to their barn. The barn was destroyed. The cattle were killed. It killed the dairy cattle. That is a great cost to the cost of food,” MacAulay said. “I am so proud to be part of a government that has an environmental plan, that will make sure that we will continue to work with farmers and to make sure that they are able to deal with the climate issues that they have to deal with in this country.”
On Feb. 3, a Conservative MP from Alberta asked the first farmer-related question in the House.
Earl Dreeshen from Red Deer-Mountain View asked if the government would support Bill C-234 in its original state to bring down the cost of food.
Francis Drouin, the parliamentary secretary to Minister MacAulay, responded, saying Conservatives talk about supporting farmers but aren’t there for producers when it counts.
Dreeshen’s follow up question cited that grain commodity prices are down about 40 per cent, and that farmers can’t make a profit anymore.
Drouin acknowledged the difficulties, saying climate change is a main contributor and government programs like AgriStability are available.
Branden Leslie, the Conservative MP for Portage-Lisgar, provided the example that a local farmer named Jim is paying $5,000 per month in carbon taxes to heat his poultry barn.
“How much more does (the prime minister) suggest Jim should be paying to heat his barn when it is -40°?” Leslie said.
Drouin answered, saying the government has supported supply management and that climate change affects land and crops.