Parliament returns with liberals focused on Ukraine and conservatives on carbon pricing

Several Ukrainian organizations in Canada have criticized the Conservatives for the party’s vote against the Ukrainian free trade bill.

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OTTAWA – Liberals intend to move quickly to get a Ukraine free trade bill back up for debate and pressure Conservatives to support it when MPs return to the House of Commons on Monday after the break. of Christmas.

Legislation to implement an updated free trade agreement between Canada and Ukraine became unexpected political fodder in the fall when the Conservatives voted against it in a protest against carbon pricing.

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Ukraine has had a carbon price since 2011 and Canada since 2019, but the updated free trade agreement requires both to promote a carbon price.

The Conservatives say they voted against the legislation only because they will not support any carbon pricing promotion and have shown no signs of being willing to budge.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives will waste no time in implementing a carbon price exception for farmers, potentially blowing more holes in one of the Liberals’ signature climate policies.

The Conservative carbon pricing bill to remove some additional agricultural fuels from the carbon price was amended in the Senate and will be the first to be debated this morning.

Several Ukrainian organizations in Canada criticized the Conservatives for the vote against the Ukrainian free trade bill and the Liberals seized on the issue, accusing the Conservatives of caving in to American right-wing commentators and politicians who have sided with them. Russia versus Ukraine in the conflict.

House Liberal Leader Steven MacKinnon said the bill will be debated soon, as will legislation to implement the fall economic statement and legislation banning the use of replacement workers in most places. jobs regulated by the federal government.

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MacKinnon said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has a decision to make on Ukraine.

“You know, we’re the only people who aren’t ridiculing their position on this,” MacKinnon said.

Poilievre said Conservatives will enter the session with a relentless focus on passing Bill C-234.

Gasoline and diesel used on farms are already exempt from the carbon price because, for the most part, no alternatives exist. The legislation, introduced by Conservative MP Ben Lobb, also seeks to eliminate carbon pricing on natural gas and propane.

The bill was easily passed by the House of Commons almost a year ago with support from all parties except the Liberals. But the Senate voted to amend the bill in December, leaving only propane for grain drying exempt.

Lobb said Sunday that he rejected those amendments and told reporters that he hopes it will return to the House as it was initially drafted.

That bill now needs to be debated further in the House of Commons, and if it passes, both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault will find themselves in a political bind.

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Both have vowed to make no more exceptions to the carbon price after deciding in October to eliminate it from heating oil for three years. That decision, which they insist was made to give heating oil users more time and money to replace their oil boilers with electric heat pumps, was met with significant political criticism.

Since heating oil was more prominent in Atlantic Canada, the Liberals were accused of pandering to the region to win back votes.

Poilievre will begin 2024 in Parliament much as he did the year before, with a hawkish focus on the cost-of-living anxieties plaguing Canadians, ranging from housing affordability to food prices .

His decision to do so throughout 2023 allowed him to rise to the top of the polls, leaving Trudeau’s Liberals struggling to catch up.

“Conservatives will fight this session,” Poilievre told his caucus on Sunday, “to cut the tax, build housing, fix the budget, stop crime.”

Appealing to Canadians concerned about crime in their cities is another major focus of the Conservatives, as is growing support among the country’s working class, particularly in NDP and Liberal constituencies in northern Ontario, the interior of British Columbia and on Vancouver Island.

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When it comes to the Liberals’ bill to ban the use of replacement workers in federally regulated workplaces, the Conservatives have not yet stated their position.

The New Democrats and Liberals continue to negotiate what an initial pharmaceutical care program would look like.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has said working with the Liberals on pharmaceutical care legislation has been like wrestling with oil-covered eels.

Singh told a town hall meeting in Edmonton, where the New Democrats held a caucus retreat last week, that he took the description of the eel from his party’s health critic, Don Davies, who has been negotiating with the government on a framework law.

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