Duelling motions in N.B. legislature fuel stalemate on pump price relief

Click to play video: 'Inflation a hot topic at New Brunswick legislature'
Inflation a hot topic at New Brunswick legislature
WATCH: Inflation and the rising cost of living was the hot topic at the New Brunswick legislature today. Both the governing PCs and opposition liberals have put forward ideas they said could give residents a break. But as Travis Fortnum reports neither is making much headway. – May 19, 2022

Thursday saw two different gas price relief motions brought forth on the floor of New Brunswick’s legislature, one from the government and one from the official Opposition. However, neither will be debated until at least next month with both sides blocking the other’s hopes for a same-day vote.

Blaine Higgs’ government wants to ask the federal government to eliminate its carbon tax of 11 cents per litre through the summer, while the Liberals want the province to freeze collection of its 10.87-tax at the pumps for the same amount of time – plus cut a $500 cheque to each resident in the province making less than $25,000 a year.

READ MORE: Sky-high gas prices fuel rampant demand for electric vehicles

Motions can be debated without notice if all MLAs support that, but the Liberals denied the option for the governing PCs while their own idea for relief also failed to get unanimous consent.

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Premier Blaine Higgs inferred the Liberal motion would yield short-term relief for a more permanent problem.

“To engage and force a national discussion, that’s what’s going to start the ball rolling to correct this,” the premier told reporters.

“It isn’t going to happen for us chasing 10 cents a litre today and another 10 tomorrow,” said Higgs. “That isn’t going to correct it.”

Click to play video: 'Are higher gas prices here to stay?'
Are higher gas prices here to stay?

New Brunswick is not the first province to suggest freezing the federal carbon tax, but if it were successful in asking the federal government to do so, that would be a first.

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In the meantime, the Opposition noted that skyrocketing costs are already extending beyond the price at the pumps.

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“It’s costing almost 20 per cent more to eat a plate of spaghetti for God’s sake,” Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said.

Regardless of the agreed-upon timeliness of the issue, there will be no debate on either motion until June 1, with the legislature adjourned next week.

“They don’t want to come back next week because they have the Premier’s golf tournament,” Green Party MLA Kevin Arseneau said.

The maximum price of gas in New Brunswick hit $2.12 per litre Thursday.

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