REGINA — The Senate amended Bill C-234 Dec. 5, leaving its future very much in doubt.
By a narrow 40-39 margin, senators voted in favour of Independent Senators Group Pierre Dalphond’s amendment to remove heating and cooling of barns from the bill that would have exempted propane and natural gas from carbon pricing.
An exemption for grain drying remained in the bill.
The chances that all parties would vote in favour of the amended bill when it returns to the House of Commons are slim. The private member’s bill had received widespread support when the Commons passed it earlier this year.
“We look to the Senate for sober second thought, but not to reject the will of the House of Commons,” said Kyle Larkin, executive director of the Grain Growers of Canada.
He said there are no viable alternatives for farmers to heat barns and greenhouses and C-234 would have allowed farmers to invest in working capital and take advantage of emerging technologies.
“The spirit of carbon pricing is to encourage behaviour change,” he said. “The amending of C-234 leaves farmers with this continued unjust taxation, impeding their ability to invest in technologies and practices that will help them meet our sustainability goals and global demand.”
The chair of the senate’s agriculture committee, Sen. Robert Black, was away at COP 28 during the vote. He said on social media that he was disappointed to see his colleagues pass an amendment that gutted the bill.
Keith Currie, the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, said disappointed doesn’t accurately describe what Canadian farmers feel.
Sen. David Wells, who had sponsored the bill in the Senate, said C-234 will likely die through process in the Commons.
“It’s difficult to think that some in power would have our key food producers carry this tax burden,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Our job should be to make operations in the food industry less expensive, not more expensive. Food is not a luxury.”
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