Sparks fly at hearing on Scott Moe’s carbon tax, as Trudeau defends pollution plan in letter to premiers

Sparks flew at a House of Commons committee on Wednesday as Liberal MPs objected to what they called Conservative-led theatrics after the president unilaterally invited anti-carbon tax prime ministers to testify.

Before the first premier on the agenda, Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, could begin his testimony before the Government Estimates and Operations Committee, Liberal MPs raised numerous points of order.

“You called the meeting unilaterally without instructions or consultation with the members of this committee… This is a political trick and theater, part and parcel of what our conservative colleagues are carrying out, to obtain clips,” said the Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk.

Liberal MP Francis Drouin warned that setting this precedent would not be something that would please Conservatives in the long run, when Liberal committee chairs begin calling witnesses at their discretion.

Wednesday’s hearing was prompted by the prime ministers of New Brunswick, New Scotland, saskatchewan and alberta publish letters asking to urgently appear before the liberal-led House Finance Committee to express concerns about the impending increase.

When their request was not met (MPs are not meeting this week and most committees do not have scheduled meetings), the Conservative MP and committee chair, Kelly McCaulay, decided to invite them to the committee that he chairs.

McCauley defended the move as “fully within” his powers and argued that, as MPs were studying the government’s spending plans, hearing what the premiers had to say was relevant.

“There are many examples of other presidents doing similar things. I think it is the president’s privilege and obligation to call meetings,” he said. “So I did it.”

Twenty-five minutes into the hearing, Moe was given the floor.

“I appreciate the warm Canadian welcome,” he said. “I wore my red tie in the spirit of collaboration,” Moe continued, launching into his arguments about why he believes the federal price on pollution is making life more unaffordable and why he doesn’t consider Saskatchewan a “climate laggard.” .

Moe’s testimony is expected to be followed by New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs later Wednesday, and likely a second hearing with additional witnesses on Thursday.

Tensions have been high in Parliament amid growing Conservative-led opposition to the carbon tax, ahead of the April 1 price rise that will see the $65 per tonne carbon price rise to $80 per tonne. .

Trudeau to prime ministers: offer an alternative

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the flurry of political leaders writing open letters about the carbon tax Tuesday night, releasing a formal response to Canadian prime ministers who oppose the marquee Liberal policy. In it, he implored them to come up with a better climate action plan.

In a two-page message. Posted on social media, Trudeau thanks the premiers for raising the issue, before moving on to defend the carbon price and matching rebate program as intentionally designed to be revenue neutral and beneficial to most households. Canadians, while driving climate action.

“Putting a price on pollution is the foundation of any serious plan to fight climate change. It is the most efficient way to reduce emissions across the economy,” Trudeau wrote. “Carbon pricing alone will account for a third of our emissions reductions by 2030.”

Noting that the federal plan is a backup for provinces that have failed to implement an adequate system of their own, Trudeau said the federal government remains open to withdrawing its plan from provinces it opposes, as soon as they propose “credible systems.” . “

Federal pricing is currently in effect in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. In effect since 2019, the pollution pricing regime levies a tax on greenhouse gas emissions, making it more expensive to burn fossil fuels in an effort to encourage Canadians to change their habits.

The prime minister called it “demonstrably false” that the carbon tax is a major driver of inflation, pointing to a Bank of Canada calculation also cited by a number of economists in an open letter published Tuesday that seeks to counter the arguments of the opposition led by conservatives. against politics.

“As the price of pollution rises, so does Canada’s Carbon Rebate, meaning Canadian families can expect more money in their bank accounts quarterly. Rebates are about to increase,” said Trudeau, citing the upcoming refund increase. amount that households receive.

The Prime Minister ended the letter by saying “please accept my warm wishes.”

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