Madam Speaker, “given that the government has announced a 'temporary, three-year pause' to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.” This is a reasonable, common-sense and fair-minded motion.
Again, “given that the government has announced a 'temporary, three-year pause' to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, the House call on the government to extend that pause to all forms of home heating.” That is what Conservatives are asking for today and with the vote on Monday. The Prime Minister gave to some; now he needs to give to all.
Poll after poll has shown that the affordability crisis, aided by the government's poor fiscal mismanagement, is top of mind for all Canadians. Conversations I am having with the people of Hastings—Lennox and Addington are consistent, that the high price of food, fuel, rent and interest on mortgages is staggering. We realize that the relief from the cost of living is what Canadians not only want but need, and the quickest and most effective way to do that is to roll back the Liberals' burdensome carbon tax plan that is closer to a revenue-raising measure than an actual carbon reduction plan.
When I say that scrapping the Liberal carbon tax will have immediate positive results for struggling Canadians, I do not say that without backing. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem told parliamentarians that removing the carbon tax would result in an immediate drop in inflation, helping to ease the financial burden weighing down Canadian families.
The Conservative opposition has tried numerous times, through opposition day motions in this place, to stem the increasing tide of the affordability, and every time the Liberal-NDP government voted against them. On September 28, we moved a motion to introduce legislation to repeal the carbon tax, and the government voted against it. On June 1, we moved a motion to cancel the second carbon tax, and the government voted against it. On December 8, 2022, we moved a motion to eliminate the carbon tax on food, and the government voted against it.
It is extremely clear to anyone who has been paying attention that the government has historically had a deep loathing to alter its carbon scheme in any way.
Suffice to say, when the Prime Minister announced a temporary three-year pause to the federal carbon tax on home heating oil, many of us wondered why now. Why has the government taken this small step in the right direction after years of dogged ideological refusal to support common-sense motions proposed by the official opposition?
The answer can be found splashed across the newspapers of the nation, but allow me to cite everyone's favourite pollster, Mr. Fournier, who said that if there was an election held today, according to 338, the Liberal Party under the Prime Minister would win a staggering 80 seats. One out of every two sitting members of the government would not be coming back.
The only reason that the government is starting to break away from its near cult-like devotion to the Prime Minister's carbon tax is because it is now politically expedient to do so. It is doing it now because it knows, and always knew, it was what Canadians wanted and what Canadians needed, but Canadians had a problem because it was not what the Prime Minister wanted, until now.
With what I am sure was much gnashing of teeth at the cabinet table, the Liberals' free fall in the polls has forced them to make a political calculus, a bend in their deeply unpopular urban-centred climate change policy in exchange for at least some public support come election time, particularly in Liberal seat-rich Atlantic Canada where the majority of heating oil is used. I would like to applaud the Atlantic Liberal caucus for what I am sure was a spirited effort to secure even this small concession from the leadership. I find it curious why those same concessions were not given to other areas heated by different methods.
For instance, why did the Prime Minister fail to include electric heating from these measures, which is the most popular source of heating in British Columbia, where Mr. Fournier predicts only four of 11 members of his caucus would return, or natural gas for Ontarians, where only 30 members are slated to see the 45th Parliament? However, I have good news for my Liberal colleagues across the way. The member for Carleton just tabled a motion that would directly help the other 97% of Canadians who are struggling to pay their heating bills, like those using propane, natural gas, electric or wood stoves, which are especially frequent in rural communities.
This is not to say that a federal government does not have a role to play in combatting climate change and that industry and Canadians should do their very best to lower their carbon emissions. The federal government absolutely has a role to play as measured environmental stewards, but having the government take the wallets of Canadians hostage to do this is a terrible way to go about it.
Once again, Tiff Macklem reiterated that the carbon tax disproportionately hurt the lower class, the poor, the infirm and those on social assistance. They cannot undertake the extreme lifestyle changes necessary to have any measurable effect. Not everyone is an investment banker or a lobbyist. The vast majority of Canadians are struggling, and the Liberal-NDP government needs to open its eyes and realize this.
I would like to take an opportunity to quickly highlight another time tested and true Liberal Party method of raising money, which the government has borrowed from its Chrétien era ancestors, and that is raiding and pillaging from the budget and pockets of the Canadian Armed Forces.
At a time when CAF members are using food banks and begging for donations to pay rent, resulting in morale, recruitment and retention dipping to an all-time low, what does the government do? It slashes their benefits and cuts a billion dollars from the defence budget, something it specifically said it would not do in the 2023 budget. This does not even touch on the billions of lapsed spending this Parliament approved, which was never used on the CAF, but rather was skimmed off into some other project. It is shameful and it is the exact opposite of what needs to be done to address the numerous severe crises facing our armed forces.
My riding is immense, stretching from Amherst Island, where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River, along the shores of the Bay of Quinte to Belleville and northward to the Hastings Highlands at the edge of Algonquin Park. Whenever I get a chance, I love to travel through the riding to meet the awesome and amazing people we have there.
During my conversations with my constituents, what I find, as I am sure many others in this place find, is that despite inflation, despite high taxes and despite rising interest rates, our people are resilient and determined to carry forward and make better lives for themselves and their families. However, its getting harder.
Whether it is at local fall fairs or celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Lennox & Addington County General Hospital volunteer auxiliary, it is our people who make us strong. We cannot lose sight of the fact that it is these people who sent us here to do our jobs. It is our role to advocate for them.
My constituents are overwhelmingly hard-working farmers, forestry workers, tradesmen, seniors, small business owners and young families juggling the chaos of life. They pay their federal taxes, their provincial taxes and their municipal and education taxes. However, after eight years, they need a break from a government and a finance minister who believe big bureaucracy can spend us into prosperity using their hard tax dollars.
After eight years, they need a break from a Prime Minister who thinks he deserves over $600,000 for three vacations on the backs of taxpayers. After eight years, they need a break from the free spending finance minister and her jet-setting boss, who travels around the world preaching virtues and values that he and his government fail to uphold.
Will the members opposite find it in their hearts to rein in the runaway spending of their leadership and give my constituents, their constituents and all Canadians a break? If not, will they please step aside and let a common-sense Conservative government show them how to balance a budget and tackle climate change and still deliver services effectively and efficiently to Canadians who so desperately need it to.