Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is calling for a “massive pressure campaign” to push the governing Liberals to help pass a piece of legislation that would remove the carbon tax from fuels used in some agricultural activities.
“My message to Canadians is: Call your Liberal MP, tell them to get Justin Trudeau out of the way,” Poilievre said about the prime minister, during a news conference in Vancouver on Monday.
Poilievre was speaking in favour of a private member’s bill put forward by Conservative MP Ben Lobb. Bill C-234 passed the House of Commons in March, mostly supported by opposition parties. It’s now in the Senate, but procedural wrangling has delayed a vote on it until later this month.
The bill would remove the carbon tax on natural gas and propane used in such activities as irrigation, grain drying, feed preparation, and heating and cooling barns and greenhouses.
Poilievre pledged “to work with all Canadians over the next weeks to mount a massive pressure campaign, just as we did on home heat, to take this tax off.”
The proposed legislation comes as the government deals with the fallout of its decision last month to pause the carbon tax on home heating oil. The federal Conservatives and some premiers have pushed for that exemption to be expanded beyond oil, to all fuels used for home heating.
Trudeau has firmly closed the door on any further exemptions.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has similarly drawn a line in the sand on new carve-outs.
“As long as I’m the environment minister, there will be no more exemptions to carbon pricing,” he told The Canadian Press last week.
But passage of C-234 might take that decision out of the government’s hands.
Poilievre’s appeal Monday called for Canadians to put pressure on the government to allow a vote on the bill.
There are no longer any Liberal senators, though the upper chamber is now dominated by senators appointed by Trudeau, recommended through an independent advisory board.
in an interview that aired Saturday on CBC’s The House, Guilbeault emphasized repeatedly the government did not dictate how most senators vote.
“We don’t tell senators what to do or how to vote or not to vote. The Conservative Party does that with their Conservative senators — we don’t do that. And we’ll see what happens in the Senate,” he told host Catherine Cullen.
“I don’t think it should be taken as a given that the Senate will necessarily pass this, we’ll have to see,” Guilbeault said. “I’m not saying one way or another, but the decision hasn’t been made yet by the Senate.”
But he did acknowledge he had been in touch with some senators about the issue.
Poilievre said Monday that high-ranking ministers had been “frantically” lobbying senators concerning the legislation.
He said the bill was an important step in solving affordability issues plaguing Canadians.
“It is a common sense solution, it is a compassionate solution.”