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Trudeau’s Carbon Tax Leaves Farmers Out in the Cold as Senate Delays Relief

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Trudeau’s Senators made headlines again for shutting down debate on extending carbon tax breaks for farmers, but Liberal lies have real consequences beyond Ottawa backrooms.

With inflation already putting pressure on families, higher food prices could spell disaster for Canadians struggling to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. The price of basics like milk, eggs and vegetables might move out of reach for many.

It’s no secret that when farming costs more, consumers feel the pain down the line. And with the whole chain of food production at risk of becoming more unaffordable than ever, pressure is mounting on the Prime Minister and his Liberal government to give in.

It looks like all eyes are on Trudeau. Will he cave in and give farmers and almost all Canadians what they want, or is he willing to die on this carbon tax hill?

Despite Trudeau vowing that there will be no more carve-outs from his costly carbon tax policy, Canada’s agricultural sector has been urging Trudeau and his government to cut them some slack.

Bill C-234, put forward by Conservative MP Ben Lobb was passed in the House of Commons back in March. It seeks to exempt agricultural operations from carbon taxes on propane and natural gas by amending the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

While the federal government provided an agriculture exemption for carbon taxes on diesel and gasoline, it still neglected to exempt natural gas and propane. Farmers mostly use those fuels to dry grain and heat barns, which are also essential in the farming process.

Back on Tuesday, a majority of Senators voted against amendments which would have removed the provisions in the bill allowing for the exemption for barn and greenhouse heating. About 28 senators voted in favor of the amendments, with 42 voting against, and three senators abstaining.

If the amendments had passed, the bill would have returned to the House of Commons, to essentially never see the light of day again, which seems to be exactly what the Liberals in the Senate were hoping for. Several senators have accused the Trudeau Liberals of attempting to get rid of the bill entirely since it would make way for another carve out 

The Senate held the third reading of the bill on Thursday when Senator Bernadette Clement unexpectedly called to adjourn the debate. This essentially delayed the final vote on the bill until at least the 21st of November, when the Senate is next scheduled to convene.

In response to the sudden move to adjourn, Conservative Senator David Wells is accusing Senate Speaker Raymonde Gagné and the leadership of the Independent Senators Group of basically conspiring to shut down the debate on the bill.

After Clement called to adjourn, 29 senators voted for adjourning debate, while 24 senators voted against. Wells, who is sponsoring the bill voiced his concerns over the incident, saying:

“In my eleven years in the Senate, I have never seen a Speaker shut down debate when speakers were ready and willing and asking to speak. A shameful day for our chamber and the practice of sober second thought,” he tweeted.

Among others who had criticized the bill issue, was none other than Pierre Poilievre, who made sure to pressure Trudeau and challenge him in the House of Commons to extend the exemption to farmers. 

Senator Clement claimed her sudden adjournment of the third reading debate was merely to ensure all senators could have their say. However, her move effectively killed any chance of a final vote on the bill until weeks later – giving them time to strategize.

As deputy facilitator for the Independent Senators Group, Clement wields influence over the chamber’s agenda. Yet timing her adjournment call so late in the process guarantees further delay for farmers seeking tax relief. It seems this adjournment is nothing more than an attempt to drag out the vote.

But the reason this bill has caused such a stir in the Senate is because it could significantly change the situation of many struggling farmers, and even Canadian families.

A recent Parliamentary Budget Officer analysis shows that the exemption on natural gas and propane would save farmers almost $1 billion through 2030.

In a recent interview with CBC News, Conservative MP Michael Barret voiced his concerns over the bill.

Barret highlighted the fact that the carbon tax exemption is the first step to affordability beginning from farm production all the way to the consumer, in an already trying time. Many Candians have had to turn to food banks for support, with 2 million visits per month across the country – we are already breaking records.

Barret also made sure to directly address the Liberal senators currently blocking the bill from passing, urging them to support the legislation.

The issue is so detrimental that at a recent news conference in Vancouver, Poilievre announced a pressure campaign to force a reversal on Trudeau’s carbon tax, calling for the passing of Bill C-234 as well.

Poilievre is calling for a common-sense, compassionate approach – one that does not drive Canadians to the food banks. Given his “Axe the Tax” agenda, it’s not a surprise that he’s taking this hard line stance that demands an end to the tax on home heating methods as well as for farmers.

 If the carbon tax is adding to farmers’ expenses, then that extra cost will get passed down the line at the grocery store. Poilievre realizes that Canadians simply can’t afford even more expensive food. 

And for farmers, there are no other alternatives other than natural gas and propane. Heat pumps just don’t work in Canada’s agriculture sector. While heat pumps may work in some climates, they are ineffective in the cold prairie regions where temperatures often fall well below the acceptable operating levels. Keeping livestock barns at a consistent temperature even in extreme cold is just not feasible without traditional heating sources like natural gas and propane.

This attempt at kicking the can down the road comes at a very bad time for Trudeau’s administration. Recently, Trudeau’s environment commissioner predicted that Trudeau will not even reach his 2030 emissions target, despite all the sacrifices Canadians have made attempting to achieve his unrealistic targets. 

Clearly his climate policies not only fail to hit climate targets, but end up hitting the pockets of already struggling Canadians instead.

At the end of the day, families just want decent prices on the basic foods they need. If the Senate stalls much longer, they put farmers’ livelihoods at risk.

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