Wednesday 17th of April 2024

The supported NDP proposal to extend the carbon tax exemption to all home heating systems was defeated in the House of Commons.

A non-binding proposal by Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to extend the carbon tax pause for home heating oil to all forms of home heating did not pass on Monday.

Members of the Bloc Quebecois and the Greens sided with the Liberal caucus, voting to reject the Conservative proposal, which had atypical support from the NDP.

In the end, the proposal was rejected with a vote of 186 against to 135 in favor. Trudeau virtually voted "against" it.

While this proposal would not have compelled the federal government to change its policy, if Poilievre had secured Bloc support, it could have become a point of political pressure, signaling to opposition parties that the majority in the House of Commons wants the Liberals to act. However, this was not the case. As Bloc members pointed out, this proposal "will have no impact on Quebec" because the federal carbon tax does not apply in that province.

This is because this temporary exemption, as well as the doubling of the carbon pricing rebate across Canada, only applies to jurisdictions with the federal carbon tax in place: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, and Nunavut.

Speaking before the vote, Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said his caucus "will not act like the NDP and vote strangely with the Conservatives." He added, "The environment is not such a quirky thing to dabble in between crises. It is a very important issue in itself, and we must be consistent, patient, and determined on these issues."

Defending their decision to support this proposal, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who also voted virtually, told reporters that while he disagreed, his party voted "in favor" to reject the Liberals' "ridiculous" approach.

"We absolutely reject the Liberals' plan. We believe it's unfair. It pits regions against each other, so we're voting to reject the Liberals' division," Singh said. "Unlike the Conservatives, we believe in fighting the climate crisis."

Now, the NDP will attempt to advance its own proposal, with debates on Tuesday and a forced vote in the coming days, calling for the removal of the GST from home heating.

Reacting to the news that he would not get the vote, Poilievre accused the Bloc of wanting to raise taxes, while the Conservatives advocate for a "tax cut" in case of election.

The Conservative leader also suggested that the Quebec-based party had formed its own "coalition" with the government, referring to the confidence and supply agreement that remains in effect between the Liberal minority and the NDP. Monday's vote was not a confidence matter.

Taking aim at Trudeau's absence from the House on Monday, Poilievre criticized the prime minister for announcing a "pause" for three percent of Canadians in areas where his poll numbers are plummeting, and his MPs are revolting, as the federal party noted in an immediate fundraising email denouncing the outcome.

"Now he has cut a deal with separatists to divide Canadians into two separate classes: those who will have to pay the carbon tax on their heating because of the heat, and a small minority who will get a pause from the pain," Poilievre said in a press conference after the vote.

Recently, the Conservatives put forward a similar proposal, seeking a tax exemption for home heating fuels, and both the Bloc and the NDP voted it down, with only one Liberal dissenter: MP Ken McDonald.

This time, the Liberal caucus was united in rejecting this proposal since Trudeau and his leading ministers have already stated that there will be no further exemptions to their key climate policy.