Poilievre Accuses Trudeau of Creating ‘Two Classes of Citizenship’ with Home Heating Oil Tax Pause, Calls for ‘Carbon Tax Election’

Poilievre Accuses Trudeau of Creating 'Two Classes of Citizenship' with Home Heating Oil Tax Pause, Calls for 'Carbon Tax Election'
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre rises during Question Period, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

“Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clash over carbon tax exemption for home heating oil, as political tensions rise.”

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of creating “two classes” of Canadians, as a result of a carbon tax exemption for people who use home heating oil. Speaking to a Conservative caucus meeting on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, Poilievre criticized Trudeau for requiring households using other fuels to pay the levy while exempting those relying on home heating oil.

“It’s fundamentally unfair that a fuel source largely used by rural residents of Atlantic Canada will go untaxed during the government’s three-year ‘pause,'” Poilievre said.

Statistics Canada data indicates that just three per cent of Canadians use oil to heat their homes, with the numbers varying significantly across different provinces. While 18 per cent of residents in Newfoundland and Labrador, 40 per cent in Prince Edward Island, and 32 per cent in Nova Scotia rely on oil for heating, the figures drop to 2 per cent in Ontario, 4 per cent in Quebec, 7 per cent in New Brunswick, and 1 per cent in B.C. No homes in the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan use oil for heating, with natural gas being the primary fuel source in these areas.

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Poilievre has put pressure on NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to reject Trudeau’s approach, stating that “The question becomes, what will Jagmeet Singh do? Will he once again sell out working class Canadians to suck up to Justin Trudeau?”

To address the regional disparity, Poilievre announced that his party will introduce a motion to extend the carbon tax exemption to “all Canadians everywhere.” He described his motion as a “compromise,” stating, “Let’s make a deal. Let’s pause the carbon tax on all home heating until Canadians go to the polls so we can have a carbon tax election where Canadians will decide between his plan and my commonsense plan to axe the tax.”

Trudeau defended the pause as an affordability measure to help low-income rural households, stating that “Home heating oil is dirtier and it is more expensive than other forms of heat and home heating oil is disproportionately relied upon by lower income Canadians in rural areas across the country who need more support.”

He also ruled out any further exemptions or suspensions of the carbon tax, which is designed to lower the country’s carbon emissions in line with its climate reduction targets.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with reporters as he makes his way to Question Period, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Despite Trudeau’s claims that eight out of ten Canadians receive more back in rebates than they pay in carbon taxes, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has raised questions about the accuracy of this statement, suggesting that most households will see a net loss.

The current federal fuel charge applies in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan, with the rate set at $65 a tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

In response to Poilievre’s call for a “carbon tax election,” Trudeau stated that he believes Canadians are “deeply concerned about the need to continue to fight climate change,” adding that his plan includes rebates that put more money back into the pockets of most Canadians than the carbon tax collects.

Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan echoed Trudeau’s sentiments, stating that it’s “too early to call” for a carbon tax-focused election. Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault added that he welcomes the challenge, stating, “So, if Mr. Poilievre wants to fight the next election on that, I welcome it.”