Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre tabled the motion Thursday morning, after his party devoted most of each question period this week to this subject.
New Democrats say they will support the Conservative motion calling on the Trudeau government to remove carbon pricing on all residential heating methods until after the next election, the House leader of the New Democratic Party said Thursday (NDP), Peter Julian.
“The reality is that we need to ensure that affordability is accessible to all Canadians and that is why we support this motion,” said Mr. Julian.
This decision is another political blow to the Liberals, who have been struggling for several days to defend their decision to suspend carbon pricing on residential heating oil for the next three years.
The change is intended to give people who still use this fuel the time and funds to replace it with electric heat pumps.
The heat pump controversy has added to the Liberal caucus' concerns about the decisions of the government. Even a prominent Liberal senator, Percy Downe, this week called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to start planning his departure.
A pause in pricing on residential heating oil
The latest controversy began last week, when Mr. Trudeau suddenly announced a pause in pricing on residential heating oil.
Until last summer, heating oil was exempt from pricing carbon in the Atlantic provinces. That's when all four provinces were added to the national carbon pricing system, replacing a provincial version that was previously in place.
Provincial governments, as well as Atlantic Canadian Liberal MPs, lobbied hard in the months leading up to the July 1 change to remove home heating oil from the carbon pricing list.
The cost of oil has increased more than 70% in the past two years.
The Liberals initially responded by launching a program to help oil users replace their oil furnaces by electric heat pumps.
The program, which covers the entire cost of switching to heat pumps for low-income users, is available to all provinces that agree to provide part of the financial support themselves.
So far , the only ones to do so are Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, where between 14 and 53% of households rely on fuel oil.
Last week's announcement increased the grants available under this program, increased the carbon pricing rebate for rural Canadians, and exempted heating oil from the carbon pricing policy for three years.
Opposition parties and Western Canadian premiers have cried foul, accusing the Liberals of regional favoritism to save their political skin in provinces where poll results, usually positive, have collapsed since July.
Mr. Julian said the NDP, which usually supports carbon pricing, tried to get the Conservatives to accept a motion to remove the GST on all heating sources, rather than on carbon pricing.
However, since this did not happen, and since the Conservative motion “does not deny the existence of climate change,” the NDP caucus decided to support it out of concern for fairness.
“We think the panicked response from the Liberals a few days ago seems to have to do with electoral chances more than anything else,” Mr. Julian said.
He argued that it created a situation in which people in some parts of the country will receive help to keep their homes heated during a “tough winter while they are struggling” but “other Canadians will not.”< /p>
“Two classes of citizens”
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre tabled the motion Thursday morning, after his party devoted most of each question period this week to the subject.
“The Prime Minister decided to create two classes of citizens,” argued Mr. Poilievre, during the debate on his motion in the House of Commons.
While they themselves billed this announcement as an “updated affordability measure for Atlantic and rural Canadians,” the Liberals are now claiming that this is truly a program which helps people across the country.
As a heat source, fuel oil is much more common in Atlantic Canada. However, in raw numbers, more than three out of four households that consume oil are not in the Atlantic region.
The price of carbon is set based on the amount of emissions from greenhouse gases produced. This means the tax is approximately 40% higher for residential heating oil than for natural gas.
Although the carbon price rebates are intended to offset the cost of carbon pricing for most Canadians, Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said that for people using heating oil, the rebates do not often do not cover the cost.
Rebates are set by each province based on the total carbon price collected. They are distributed equally among residents and are not based on the carbon price each person pays individually.
Mr. Wilkinson said not only is natural gas much cheaper to purchase, but carbon price rebates are also sufficient to cover those costs.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer's assessment (BDP) carbon price rebates compared to the cost of carbon pricing by province shows that nationally, about eight in ten Canadians receive more than they pay.
However, in the three provinces where the proportion of fuel oil use is highest, the benefit is less, or even non-existent, for a greater number of people. In Nova Scotia, about 60 per cent of households are expected to receive less than they paid, according to the PBO report.
Atlantic Liberal Caucus Chair Kody Blois declared in the House of Commons that no one can deny that citizens who use residential heating oil suffer more than others.