Pierre Poilievre brought up Bill C-234 on Nov. 22
By Diego Flammini
The first mention of anything related to agriculture in the House of Commons last week occurred on Nov. 22.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre called for the government to get out of the way and let Bill C-234 pass in the Senate.
Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan responded.
He cited previous Conservative decisions and alleged there’s more to the Conservatives than the carbon tax issue.
“What is up with that party,” he said. “That is what Canadians want to know, and no one is buying this carbon tax excuse. What is up?”
Poilievre revisited Bill C-234 later in question period that day.
He asked Prime Minister Trudeau to “tell his senators that they have go-ahead to pass this common-sense Conservative bill so that our farmers can feed our people.”
Adam van Koeverden and Karina Gould responded to Poilievere’s questions.
They did not directly address Bill C-234, choosing to instead attack the Conservatives for their stances on climate change and to reaffirm the government’s general support for Canadians.
Poilievre, van Koeverden and Gould sparred again about the effects of the carbon tax on farmers and food during the Nov. 22 question period.
Poilievre cited the carbon tax and how it raises costs for farmers, truckers and consumers, and challenged the prime minister to “call an election on the carbon tax.”
Van Koeverden, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of environment, replied by highlighting how the ag sector is “affected probably more than any other sector by climate change.”
Storms, fires and soil erosion “result from climate change, and a price on pollution is working to reduce our emissions and fight the fight,” he said.
Poilievre then asked the government to tell farmers how much the carbon tax will cost them once the tax goes up, and cited a bill from a farm in his Carleton riding that pays $11,000 per month in carbon taxes.
In her responses, Gould said Conservatives should support Ukraine because Russia’s illegal invasion is driving up the cost of food and fuel, and that if Conservatives really supported Canadian farmers they would support the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement.
Another exchange related to the carbon tax and farmers occurred between Poilievre and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay.
Poilievre called out the Bloc Québécois for supporting the carbon tax and asked how much the tax would affect producers in Quebec.
Minister MacAulay fielded that question.
Not having a plan for the climate “is certainly very reckless,” the minister said, adding that he and Lisa Thompson, Ontario’s ag minister, announced a $25 million plan to support innovation and fight climate change.
“I can tell the Leader of the Opposition that, one, he needs a climate plan, and two, this government will continue to support our farmers to make sure they stay on the cutting edge and become more profitable,” MacAulay said. “If we do not deal with climate change, we will add to the price of food.”
Poilievre responded saying increasing the carbon tax will increase the price of food.
Minister MacAulay reiterated that not dealing with climate change will add to the price of food.
Poilievre again asked if Bill C-234 would be allowed to pass in the Senate.
Adam van Koeverden responded, saying Ukrainian farmers know about farming and climate change, and that they’ve asked for the free trade agreement to pass.
Conservatives continued to pressure the government about Bill C-234 on Nov. 23.
Kelly Block, the MP for Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek in Saskatchewan, asked if the Liberals will pass C-234 in the Senate to lower the price of food.
International Trade Minister Mary Ng sidestepped the question, pointing to the Conservatives’ reluctance to pass the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement.
Block asked again for Bill C-234 to pass to support farmers and Canadian consumers.
Karina Gould didn’t answer, pointing to the Conservatives using carbon pricing as a reason not to pass the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement.
“It is another demonstration of how irresponsible, how reckless and how risky it would be for the Conservatives to be in power,” she said.
The Conservatives asked more Bill C-234 questions on Nov. 24.
Gerard Soroka, the MP for Yellowhead in Alberta, called on the government to support the bill to provide farmers with carbon tax relief.
Francis Drouin, the parliamentary secretary to Minister MacAulay, said Conservatives don’t support farmers.
“Why did the leader of the official opposition cut $200 million when he was at the cabinet table to support farmers for business risk management?” he said. “The leader of the official opposition is not worth the risk. He wants to balance the budget on the backs of farmers. On this side of the House, we will always stand up for farmers.”
Gary Vidal, the MP for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River in Saskatchewan, followed up with another Bill C-234 question, asking the Liberals to get out of the way and let the bill pass.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault replied, highlighting the benefits of carbon pricing.
“Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the member that putting a price on pollution is what enables us to reduce emissions by the equivalent of removing 11 million vehicles from our roads,” he said.
Shannon Stubbs, the Conservative MP for Lakeland in Alberta, also pressed the Liberals to allow senators to pass C-234 because it supports farmers and consumers.
Minister Guilbeault didn’t answer the question directly, but reaffirmed support for carbon pricing.
“Economists agree across the country that our pollution pricing system puts more money back into eight out of 10 households in Canada,” he said. “If we take that away, we will take money away from Canadians, which is no surprise coming from the Conservative Party.”