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Justin Trudeau refuses to freeze the carbon tax

Photo: Todd Korol The Canadian Press Justin Trudeau met with Alberta Conservative Premier Danielle Smith on Wednesday.

Bill Graveland – The Canadian Press and Lauren Krugel – The Canadian Press in Calgary

March 14, 2024

  • Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday rebuffed pressing demands from some provincial premiers to abandon the annual increase in carbon pricing on April 1, saying governments must address the both the cost of living and climate change.

“My job is not to be popular,” Mr. Trudeau said, pausing briefly before adding, smirking: “Even if it helps.”

“My job is to do the right things for Canada now and to do the right things for Canadians a generation from now. »

Mr. Trudeau made the comments at a press briefing in Calgary after meeting Alberta Conservative Premier Danielle Smith for the first time since last summer at the Calgary Stampede earlier Wednesday.

Ms. Smith and six other provincial premiers have called on Mr. Trudeau to abandon the 23% increase in federal carbon pricing, scheduled for April 1, to help Canadians already struggling. taken on tight budgets.

The leader of the conservative opposition in Ottawa, Pierre Poilievre, has also been opposing this “tax” for months. He said in a statement Wednesday that his party planned to force several votes in Parliament next week to cancel the hike scheduled for April 1.

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Mr. Trudeau told a news conference in Calgary that it was easy for governments to delay action on climate change so that it would not be their problem while they are in power. It’s also easy for “short-sighted politicians,” he added, to oppose carbon pricing.

“Why are so many people still against ?,” he asked during an announcement about the federal government’s dental program. “Well, you know, that’s a question we all need to ask. »

He said the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was to use market mechanisms itself, such as carbon pricing, rather than relying on the “heavy hand of government” through measures such as regulations and subsidies.

“I prefer a cleaner solution, a market-based solution, which is to say, “You know what ? If you behave in a way that is going to cause pollution, that is going to impact the entire community, so you should pay for this pollution. Thus, the community does not suffer the negative aspects and does not have to clean up everything at its own expense.”

“Polluting should not be free anywhere in the country,” he argued.

“You could be re-elected”

Earlier Wednesday, as Prime Minister Trudeau and his Alberta counterpart smiled and shook hands in front of the cameras, Smith thanked the Trudeau government for moving the pipeline expansion project forward Trans Mountain to the coast of British Columbia.

Ms. Smith, who said she was the one who requested a meeting with Mr. Trudeau when she learned he would be in Calgary, said at a news conference in Edmonton later Wednesday that she had reiterated her opposition to carbon pricing.

“I even suggested to the Prime Minister that he could achieve a victory if he listened to the growing calls against the carbon tax and reversed his decision to increase it,” Smith said.

Mr. Trudeau, for his part, maintained that there were measures to avoid punishing those who do not have the means to significantly reduce their carbon footprint. As pricing increases, so do Ottawa discounts. For example, an average family of four in Alberta would receive $1,800 per year.

“We recognized that here, in Alberta, and elsewhere, there are still families who have to heat with oil […] and it’s more expensive, it’s more polluting, and it is used by lower-income families who do not have the possibility of transforming the way they heat their homes, Mr. Trudeau also underlined.

“That's why we put a pause on the price on pollution on oil heating in order, for the next three years, to invest and have free heat pumps in the provinces which are ready to work with us. »

Mr. Poilievre, in a statement, said it was time to force the vote in the House to help families. “The ability of Canadians to put food on the table and fuel in their cars is more important than protecting Justin Trudeau's flagging political career,” he said.

Carbon pricing is expected to increase next month by $15 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, to $80. The price was set at $65 per ton in 2023 and must then increase by $15 per year, reaching $170 per ton in 2030.

In addition to Alberta, the governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and of Saskatchewan have requested a suspension of the annual federal rate increase on April 1.

This pricing does not apply to Quebec and British Columbia, two provinces which have implemented their own emissions reduction regime approved by Ottawa.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116