Conservatives pressured the government about Bill C-234 all week
By Diego Flammini
The second set of questions on the first day of question period last week targeted Bill C-234.
Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre on Nov. 27 asked the government to allow the Senate to pass Bill C-234 to provide relief to farmers and consumers.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland responded by saying the government supports Canadians and the Conservatives would cut programs.
Government House Leader Karina Gould responded to a second Poilievere question about Bill C-234. She didn’t answer the question, instead saying Poilievre doesn’t tell Canadians the truth on issues like the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement or the incident at the Rainbow Bridge.
Poilievre asked the government a third time to pass Bill C-234 “to take the tax off the farmers who feed us.”
Gould provided the response.
She reiterated that Poilievre doesn’t tell the truth on certain issues, and that “the war in Ukraine and inflation” are contributing to higher food prices.
John Barlow, the Conservative ag critic, also asked Bill C-234 questions on Nov. 27.
He asked if Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay would defend farmers and encourage Liberal-appointed senators to support the bill and farmers.
Freeland responded by highlighting that Canada is building housing and Conservatives would cut programs.
Barlow’s second question about Bill C-234 targeted Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault.
Barlow accused Guilbeault of “bullying senators” to block Bill C-234, and said he’s more worried about saving his job than supporting Canadians.
Guilbeault responded saying Conservatives “should be ashamed of asking this question in this House after they directed their MPs to bully senators who disagreed with them,” and also highlighting the Senate’s independence.
Kyle Seeback, the Conservative MP for Dufferin-Caledon, also pressured the government to pass Bill C-234 and help families feed themselves.
Jenna Sudds, the minister of families, children and social development, fielded this question.
She said Liberal investments that Conservatives are opposed to, are helping Canadians.
Seeback’s second question suggested the Liberals are blocking Bill C-234 in the Senate because of Minister Guilbeault’s threat to resign if it passes.
Gould responded to Seeback reiterating the Senate is independent and that the Conservatives are the only ones directing senators on what to do.
The next Bill C-234 question came from Pierre Paul-Hus, the Conservative MP for Charlesbourg-Haute-Saint-Charles.
He asked the prime minister to ask Minister Guilbeault to “stop exerting pressure to block the bill,” and to get the bill passed.
Guilbeault’s response reminded the House that most Senators are independent except for Conservative senators.
Mr. Paul-Hus asked the prime minister to “tell the senators he appointed” to put the interests of Canadians ahead of those of Minister Guilbeault.
The environment minister’s response told the House that after Andrew Scheer “posted a photo of the female senators who opposed Bill C-234, the Senate and the police had to launch an investigation in response to the threats these independent senators received.”
The next Bill C-234 exchange on Nov. 27 started with Ben Lobb, the Conservative MP for Huron-Bruce who originally introduced Bill C-234 in the House.
He asked if Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Guilbeault will stop interfering with the process and let senators pass his bill.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay answered.
He said the Conservatives have no plan to address the environment, and investments like the $9 million he announced to support the canola sector will keep farmers on the cutting edge.
Lobb’s second question highlighted how an Ontario farmer pays $11,000 per month in carbon taxes, and because of this tax, it’s cheaper for Canadians to buy food brought in from Mexico.
Minister MacAulay’s response again highlighted how Liberal investments support farmers.
Jeremy Patzer, the Conservative MP for Cypress Hills-Grasslands, also asked the government to pass Bill C-234, citing that a farmer pays $1,500 per month on propane, a third of which is carbon tax.
Karina Gould responded, reminding the House that the Senate is independent.
The Conservatives continued to pressure the government on Bill C-234 during Nov. 28’s question period.
Poilievre asked Prime Minister Trudeau directly to stop blocking the bill and let it receive royal assent.
The Prime Minister responded by saying if Conservatives cared about affordability, they’d vote in favour of Bill C-56 “which would increase competition in the grocery sector.”
Poilievre asked the prime minister again to pass the bill.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s response included reminding Poilievre that “97 per cent of fuel emissions in the agricultural sector, in the farming sector, are already exempt from our price on pollution.”
Another exchange on Nov. 28 saw Poilievre, Barlow and Gérard Deltell, the Conservative MP for Louis-Saint-Laurent, ask various questions about Bill C-234.
Most of the Liberals who responded didn’t answer the question directly.
But Minister Guilbeault did provide a targeted response to a question from Mr. Deltell.
He said it’s “odd that the Conservative Party never mentions the $1.5 billion we give farmers across the country to help them shrink their carbon footprint. How odd that they never talk about the effects of climate change, which cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars.”
A further Bill C-234 back and forth started with Dave Epp, the Conservative MP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington, and Minister MacAulay.
Epp asked the government to explain how the carbon tax affects Canadian farmers’ competitiveness when U.S. farmers don’t pay the same tax.
Minister MacAulay said farmers expect political parties to have a plan for climate change, like the $9.2 million he announced for living labs in Winnipeg.
Dan Mazier, the Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa, asked if the government would pass C-234 while Minister Guilbeault is at COP28 in Dubai.
The environment minister responded by highlighting that some Conservative premiers will be attending as well.
Shannon Stubbs, the Conservative MP for Lakeland, also asked if Bill C-234 can pass to provide support for Canadian farmers and consumers.
Chrystia Freeland provided a response about Ukrainian heritage.
Stubbs’s rebuttal said the Liberals have a “distract-and-divide agenda,” and that passing Bill C-234 will help with affordability.
Freeland’s response indicated stopping Putin’s war in Ukraine will help lower prices for food and fuel.
Poilievre and Trudeau sparred over Bill C-234 again on Nov. 29.
The opposition leader asked if the prime minister would help the bill pass to “axe the tax on the farmers who feed us.”
The prime minister’s response said Canadians, “including and especially our hard-working farm families, are seeing the impacts of climate change increasingly, every single year.”
The two had another exchange about the carbon tax and Bill C-234 during that question period.
Poilievre continued to push the Liberals to let the bill pass in the Senate, while the prime minister reminded the House that almost all farm fuels are exempt from the price on pollution, and that Conservatives should support Liberal measures to bring more competition in the grocery sector.
Another back and forth between the two about Bill C-234 occurred on Nov. 29.
Poilievre asked how farmers expect to survive with the carbon tax continuing to increase.
Prime Minister Trudeau said the government is working with farmers and industry to “adapt to the reality of climate change and the challenges of global supply chains.”
On Nov. 30, Lianne Rood, the Conservative MP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, asked about passing Bill C-234 to help lower food prices.
Anita Anand, the president of the treasury board, provided a response highlighting legislation to stabilize grocery prices.
Adam van Koeverden, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of environment and the minister of sport, answered Rood’s follow up question about passing Bill C-234 in the Senate.
His response indicated “our pollution pricing policy reflects the realities of Canada's agriculture industry. We have spent almost $500 million on R and D and adoption for clean technologies for grain drying. We have spent $12 million to reduce methane emissions from cattle. We have spent $670 million to support the adoption of greenhouse gas reduction practices on farms. We will keep supporting farmers because they are key to fighting climate change.”
Richard Lehoux, the Conservative MP for Beauce, asked the prime minister to tell senators he appointed to stop blocking Bill C-234.
Karina Gould answered, reminding the House that the Senate is independent.
More Bill C-234 questions came on Nov. 30.
Conservative MPs Jeremy Patzer, Richard Bragdon and Frasier Tolmie all asked the government to stop delaying the bill and let it receive royal assent to support farmers and bring down food costs.
During those exchanges, Minister MacAulay said “if one does not deal with the climate, one does not do anything with grocery prices.”
Conservatives continued to push for Bill C-234’s passage during the Dec. 1 question period.
Gérard Deltell cited a report from Quebec that a 13-year-old wrote to Santa asking for food this Christmas.
“We cannot have food without agriculture,” Deltell said before asking for no further Bill C-234 delays.
Minister MacAulay answered, citing his experiences as a farmer and understanding the need to take care of the land. He also accused the Conservatives of having no plan for the environment.
Deltell’s second question highlighted a report indicating that passing Bill C-234 would save farmers almost $1 billion.
Anita Vandenbeld, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of international development, provided a response but didn’t answer the question.
Gerald Soroka, the Conservative MP for Yellowhead, and Kevin Waugh, the Conservative MP for Saskatoon-Grasswood, asked the government to allow Bill C-234 to pass.
The responses came from Arif Virani, the minister of justice and attorney general.
He talked of the need to support Ukraine.
Richard Lehoux also asked the government about the delays related to Bill C-234.
Marie-Claude Bibeau, the former minister of agriculture, answered.
She reminded the House that “whatever happens with this bill, it will have no impact on Quebec,” she said. “What my colleague from Beauce is doing is trying to put Quebec farmers at a disadvantage.”