Carbon price pause call from Nfld. premier about ‘political pressure’: Trudeau

Click to play video: 'Trudeau, premiers clash over polarizing carbon pricing hike'
Trudeau, premiers clash over polarizing carbon pricing hike
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several premiers are butting heads over the federal carbon tax. Heather Yourex-West looks at how the premiers are urging Trudeau to postpone his plans to increase the carbon tax in April, and his reaction to the pleas – Mar 13, 2024

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that he believes Liberal Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey is “(bowing) to political pressure” as he calls for a pause on the carbon price increase.

“I think Mr. Furey continues to bow to political pressure. I think Canadians in Newfoundland and Labrador and right across the country expect their governments to do the right thing,” Trudeau said at a press conference in Montreal on Friday.

“And the right thing, right now, is not just fighting climate change and spurring innovation for the future, it’s about being there to support Canadians during this affordability crisis and the Canada Carbon Rebate helps out 80 per cent of Canadians with more money than they pay in terms of a price on pollution.”

On Tuesday, Furey posted a letter on X that he sent to Trudeau calling for a pause on the April 1 carbon price increase, citing cost of living and affordability concerns.

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Furey wrote that the increase from $65 a tonne to $80 is causing “understandable worry as people consider how they will manage the mounting financial strain.”

In an emailed response Friday, Furey’s communications director Meghan McCabe said the premier believes in the importance of mitigating climate change and has always been clear that he believes the carbon price “is not the appropriate instrument to mitigate climate change at this time.”

“As outlined in his letters to the federal government, Canadians – particularly in more rural areas, like Newfoundland and Labrador – cannot immediately access alternatives such as an electric vehicle or public transit system,” McCabe wrote.

“On top of that, families are already burdened by inflationary pressures at this time. The federal government’s rebate does not fully account for the indirect and induced costs of the carbon tax and clean fuel regulations.”

Click to play video: 'Political science professor on carbon pricing pushback'
Political science professor on carbon pricing pushback

When the increase happens, the carbon price will go from around $0.14 per litre of gasoline to just over $0.17.

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Progressive Conservative Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston sent a similar letter on Tuesday. Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford, Alberta United Conservative Premier Danielle Smith and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe of the conservative Saskatchewan Party all voiced support for Furey’s letter earlier in the week as well.

Manitoba NDP Premier Wab Kinew has said he wants his province to look at reforms to carbon pricing but any changes to the carbon price’s application in the province will take years.

Click to play video: 'Calls ramp up to stop carbon tax increase in the Maritimes'
Calls ramp up to stop carbon tax increase in the Maritimes

Speaking in Calgary on Wednesday, Trudeau said it’s easy for “short-term-thinker politicians” to say getting rid of the pollution price will ease affordability challenges.

Trudeau went on to say it would mean the end of quarterly carbon rebate cheques, and says eight out of 10 people who receive these get more back than they pay on things like fuel.

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Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said that his party plans on introducing motions to stop the annual increase when MPs return to Ottawa next week. He’s been a vocal opponent of the carbon price and vowed to eliminate it if his party forms government.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party wants to see the GST removed from home heating, as it is an essential service.

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