January 28, 2016 1:01 pm

Commissioner clarifies comments on diesel fuel tax exemption for Ontario farmers

AP/Thanassis Stavrakis

TORONTO – Ontario’s new environmental commissioner says she’s not trying to target farmers by asking questions about the provincial tax exemption they get on diesel fuel.

Dianne Saxe says the recent climate change talks in Paris focused on ending fossil fuel subsidies, and she raised the farmers’ exemption from Ontario’s 14.5-cent-a-litre tax on diesel when asked for an example.

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Saxe says there may be better ways to use the $190 million a year that is not collected in diesel tax to treat farmers more fairly, and at the same time do more for the environment.

She says the world is moving away from fossil fuel subsidies, and she’s simply asking if Ontario could achieve its goals to combat climate change by helping farmers do things differently.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture says farmers who thought the commissioner was setting policy were concerned, but it is pleased to hear she wants to work with the sector on finding ways to reduce environmental impacts.

Environment Minister Glen Murray says the government would be leery of adding to farmers’ cost of doing business by removing the tax exemption on diesel fuel.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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