Liberal MP Ken McDonald Breaks Ranks, Sides with Conservatives on Carbon Tax Motion

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Liberal MP Ken McDonald Breaks Ranks, Sides with Conservatives on Carbon Tax Motion

In a surprising move, Liberal MP Ken McDonald broke ranks to support a Conservative motion urging the repeal of the federal carbon tax. McDonald was the only member of his caucus to vote in favor of the non-binding motion tabled by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

The vote took place on Oct. 4, and saw a majority opposition with a result of 209 “nays” against 119 “yeas”. Liberals, New Democrats, Bloc Quebecois, and Greens were predominantly against the proposal. However, when McDonald, representing Avalon, Nfld., rose in the House of Commons to express his support, it was met with significant applause from the Conservative side.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s motion highlighted concerns about the rising costs associated with the carbon tax, particularly on gas, groceries, and home heating. With the carbon tax having increased to $65 per tonne in April 2023 and projected to top out at $170 per tonne in 2030, Poilievre has been vocal about the financial strains Canadians may face.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre asks a question during the question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 3, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

McDonald, representing a primarily rural constituency, has previously sought special provisions for his riding, including carbon tax rebates. According to an earlier report by CBC News, McDonald spoke up during national Liberal caucus meetings, telling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the government’s current policy was “punishing the rural areas of our country and the most vulnerable people in our society.” His concerns stem from the real-world implications of the tax, with constituents struggling with increased home heating costs – one of whom reportedly resorted to wrapping in a blanket to stay warm.

This isn’t the first time Conservatives have championed the “Axe the tax” call. Previous motions introduced in the House of Commons met similar fates. Last year, on Oct. 24, a motion was defeated 116-202 after the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois voted against it. Another motion on Sept. 28 saw a 209–116 defeat.

Recent Leger survey results suggest that public sentiment may be shifting, with 55 percent of Canadians believing the carbon tax should either be reduced or eliminated. Additionally, the poll found that 68 percent of respondents were unwilling to accept higher gasoline taxes to support the Liberal government’s net-zero carbon emissions goals.

Responding to criticisms, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said Canadians are already “paying a very high price tag” for the impacts of climate change, asserting that carbon pricing remains one of the most effective countermeasures.

In unrelated news, Prime Minister Trudeau and his wife have announced their separation after 18 years of marriage.