The prime minister’s decision to temporarily exempt home heating oil from the carbon tax is a “scam” designed to turn around Liberal fortunes in the polls, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Friday.
“What caused [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau to freak out yesterday and hold a sudden press conference to announce that he was going to pause the carbon tax on home heating oil? The answer is that he was plummeting in the polls,” Poilievre said in St. John’s.
“Justin Trudeau is not worried about the cost of living. He is worried about the cost of votes and that’s what caused his panicked flip-flop yesterday.”
On Thursday, Trudeau announced his government will exempt home heating oil from the tax for three years, double the rural supplement in the rebate program and offer new programs to help rural Canadians switch to electric heat pumps.
While the exemption applies nationwide, Trudeau said the policy will help Atlantic Canada in particular. Thirty per cent of homeowners in the region still use furnace oil to heat their homes.
Poilievre said the temporary pause will be reversed if the Liberals are re-elected and urged voters in the region to reject Trudeau and Liberal candidates in the next federal election.
“This is a scam designed to trick oil-heating households into voting for him one more time so he can hit them with his big tax hike,” he said.
The Conservative leader also pointed out that while the tax pause will help Atlantic Canadians, it does very little for Western Canada.
“What about all the other Canadians who don’t use home heating oil but use gas … which ironically has lower greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
Progressive Conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford also criticized the home heating oil pause. He said in a social media post that “the vast majority of people in Ontario heat their homes and businesses” with gas.
“The carbon tax is making life more expensive for everyone in every part of the country,” Ford said. “I’m urging the prime minister to do what’s right and eliminate the tax altogether.”
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe was also critical of the pause, saying in his own social media post that it will do nothing for residents of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
Kody Blois, the Liberal MP for the Nova Scotia riding of Kings—Hants and chair of the Liberal Atlantic Caucus, told CBC Radio’s The House in an interview airing Saturday that he has been pushing for the moves Trudeau announced Friday for months.
“Pierre Poilievre is not offering any vision whatsoever on how he will help the environment,” Blois told host Catherine Cullen.
“He’s offering simplistic solutions — ‘Look, we’ll just get rid of [the carbon tax].’ But he’s not talking about the fact that there’s more money that actually goes back to households than what they pay in.”
Blois said Poilievre is exploiting “people’s anxieties and fears” without offering a solution to the climate crisis.
Poilievre’s environmental pledges
The Conservative Party’s environmental policies, Poilievre said Friday, include swift approval of liquefied natural gas projects and shorter timelines for approving small modular nuclear reactors.
Poilievre said speeding up approvals for major projects will help supply the power grid with emissions-free energy.
A future Conservative government, he said, would fast-track approvals for new mines so that industry in Canada can produce its own lithium and cobalt for electric batteries.
He also said his plan to cut red tape would help Quebec build more hydroelectric dams that could help transition the economy to a greener future.
The Conservative leader also said he would also approve tidal wave power projects like the one in the Bay of Fundywhich was abandoned in the spring after years of administrative disputes with the federal government.
Poilievre said his environmental plan also would include backing the construction of carbon capture and storage projects in Western Canada.
“We will reduce the cost of green energy rather than increasing the cost of traditional energy and we will green-light green projects,” he said.