The carbon tax featured prominently in Parliament’s first day back for the fall session
By Diego Flammini
All 338 Members of Parliament returned to Ottawa on Sept. 18 to kick off the fall legislative session.
To keep farmers informed about what’s going on in the House of Commons, Farms.com created a new article series – Ag in the House – which will summarize the exchanges between MPs in the House of Commons during question period related to farmers and the ag sector.
On Sept. 18, the carbon tax featured prominently in the House.
Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre and Conservative MP Luc Berthold posed questions to Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault about removing the carbon tax to help bring down the price of food.
Guilbeault’s responses included reminding the House that the Conservative Party’s last election platform included a clean fuel program proposal, and the government’s program is well received in the ag sector.
“The Canola Growers Association applauded the program, which will create jobs, particularly in the agricultural sector,” Guilbeault said, the House of Commons hansard reads.
The next line of questioning regarding the carbon tax came from John Barlow, the ag critic for the Conservatives.
He reiterated how the price of diesel is up by 70 cents per litre, which contributes to higher prices for farmers, truckers and consumers. He also spoke of the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report highlighting how Canadian farmers will pay close to $1 billion in carbon taxes by 2030.
François-Philippe Champagne, the minister of innovation, science and industry, recalled how the government met with grocery CEOs to work on stabilizing grocery prices.
And Minister Guilbeault responded to one of Barlow’s questions by reading a section of a press release from the Canola Growers Association that’s in favour of the clean fuel regulation.
More carbon tax questioning came on Sept. 18 from Brandon Leslie, the Conservative MP for Portage-Lisgar.
He highlighted how the average farm family will pay an extra $150,000 this year, and that those costs are unaffordable to farmers and other Canadians.
Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay responded.
“The fact is that if we do not deal with the economy the cost of everything will go up,” he said. “We have invested in climate change and this government will continue to invest in climate change so we will have a place to live.”
When the House reconvened on Sept. 19, the Bloc’s agriculture critic, Yves Perron, asked questions related to ag.
He wanted assurances from the federal government that it would support farmers and processors, who are forgotten about in the conversations about groceries.
Minister Champagne said the government would be there for farmers.
“One thing that was clear yesterday with the major grocery chains from across the country is that we must not allow any measure to affect our farmers,” he said.
Perron’s next question went to the minister of agriculture.
He asked the government to support fruit and vegetable growers in Quebec affected by rain, warning that if the federal government doesn’t act, some farms would disappear.
Minister MacAulay responded by highlighting the business risk management and Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership programs available to producers.
Conservative Ag Critic John Barlow questioned Minister MacAulay about carbon pricing.
Barlow highlighted high food prices and asked when the government would remove the carbon tax.
Minister MacAulay responded by reminding the House the damage that Hurricane Fiona did to eastern Canada and saying, “I know my hon. colleague is well aware that farmers stand with us to do something about the environment.”
Barlow’s response to that was the minister was in for a “rude awakening” if he thinks farmers support the carbon tax.
Lianne Rood, the Conservative MP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, Dominique Vien, the Conservative MP for Bellechasse-Les Etchemins-Lévis, and Warren Stenley, the Conservative MP for Regina-Lewvan, also asked questions about carbon pricing and mentioned farmers.
More carbon pricing questions came on Sept. 20.
Kyle Seeback, the Conservative MP for Dufferin-Caledon, Conservative Ag Critic John Barlow and Richard Lehoud, the Conservative MP for Beauce, all called for the carbon tax’s removal to help farmers.
Taylor Bachrach, the NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley in B.C., called on the federal government to support farmers who are struggling because of drought.
That work is underway, Minister MacAulay said.
“As he is fully aware, his provincial government in B.C. has sent the papers to my department,” MacAulay said. “We are analyzing the situation, and as soon as that is done, we will make sure the farmers are compensated.”
No questioning related to agriculture occurred during question period on Sept. 21.
And the MPs did not gather for question period on Sept. 22 because of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Ottawa where he will address Parliament.