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Legislature unanimous against federal Carbon Tax

Daily Leg Update: Leg moves quickly in response to Feds’ move on home heating oil in Atlantic.
Premier Scott Moe, seen on social media Monday announcing the province’s plans to suspend collection of the Carbon Tax on Jan. 1.

REGINA - The Carbon Tax came into sharp focus again this weekend upon news that the federal government would be granting an exemption suspending the Carbon Tax for home heating oil.

In response, or perhaps in retaliation, Premier Scott Moe took to X (Twitter) to call on the Feds to extend their pause to all forms of heating. If they did not, SaskEnergy would quit collecting the federal carbon tax on Jan. 1, 2024.

It turned out there was a unanimous reaction from the Legislature Monday against the Feds’ move.  Opposition Leader Carla Beck stood up in Question Period to say her words on the issue, as recorded in Hansard.

Ms. Beck: — "Well, Mr. Speaker, it’s extraordinary, but we found some agreements between the two sides of the House. Clearly, clearly what the federal government is doing isn’t fair. It’s not fair to allow the exemption in some parts of Canada but not extend that to the West. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I’d say it’s extraordinarily unfair, and directing SaskEnergy to not collect the federal carbon tax is an extraordinary but justified measure if a deal to restore fairness can’t be found."

Premier Moe reiterated what the provincial government planned to do:

Hon. Mr. Moe: —  "… First, still our belief that the federal government should scrap the carbon tax for everyone on everything. Mr. Speaker, that’s priority number one. Second is they should extend their pause to all forms of heating, Mr. Speaker. And if not, SaskEnergy is going to quit collecting the federal carbon tax come January the 1st."

The Speaker: — "I recognize the Leader of the Opposition."

Ms. Beck: — "Mr. Speaker, I’m not sure if the Premier heard the question, but there’s agreement there and for things that this government could and should be doing today to offer that relief.

But, Mr. Speaker, clearly people across this province, across the country are tired of divisive political games. They’re tired of the federal government sowing division between East and West for sure, and they’re tired of this provincial government that recalled this very legislature for nothing other than to sow division here in this province. Shameful politics, Mr. Speaker, on all fronts.

So what is that Premier’s plan to make sure that the voices of Saskatchewan people are heard? And what is his plan to get a deal that offers the same relief to people here in Saskatchewan?"

The Speaker: — "I recognize the Premier."

Hon. Mr. Moe: — "Well I’m pretty sure the people of this province, their voice is being heard and heard well today with respect to ensuring that federal government, propped up by the NDP, Mr. Speaker, the federal government is fully aware that we believe that this carbon tax scheme that they have enacted, of which we have never agreed with, Mr. Speaker, is removed for everyone on everything. That’s priority one — remove this carbon tax scheme, Mr. Speaker, this Trudeau carbon tax scheme that is supported by the NDP.

Mr. Speaker, if there was ever a reason, if there was ever a reason to write your federal leader and say, remove our party from this confidence and supply agreement that you have signed, Mr. Speaker, today is that day. Will the Leader of the Opposition do that?"

The Speaker: — "I recognize the Leader of the Opposition."

Ms. Beck: — "Well, Mr. Speaker, he didn’t ask for advice, but here’s some advice for him. Something I find more effective than tweeting, more effective than standing up in this legislature, is to actually have a plan. You know what? Earlier today I called the federal leader and I expressed very clearly the concerns of this province. My understanding is they share our same concerns, but when he’s hopefully talking to all the federal leaders he will reiterate that and clarify that.

My question again: what is the Premier’s plan, other than tweets, other than standing up in this legislature, to actually get a deal to provide that relief to Saskatchewan people?"

The Speaker: — "I recognize the Premier."

Hon. Mr. Moe: — "Mr. Speaker, our plan is to ensure that there is fairness for families across this nation. Mr. Speaker, our plan is to ensure that come January 1st, SaskEnergy bills that today are . . . 40 per cent of that bill is a federal carbon tax supported by the NDP, Mr. Speaker, an NDP right here in this House that called our carbon tax lawsuit frivolous, a lawsuit that was there to ensure and to battle for fairness for Saskatchewan families.

Now what we see through an NDP support of a Liberal government, Mr. Speaker, not only do we have the wrong policy enacted across this nation — which was enacted fairly across the nation — now we have the wrong policy that is not enacted fairly across this nation, Mr. Speaker. That’s what the confidence and supply agreement that Jagmeet Singh offered the Liberals has achieved in this nation, Mr. Speaker, one of the most divisive federal governments that this nation has ever seen, Mr. Speaker.

What we are going to do is continue to offer $2 billion in affordability measures for Saskatchewan people. What we are going to do, Mr. Speaker, is to ensure that we fight for families living in the city of Regina, the city of Saskatoon, wherever they live, Mr. Speaker, ensure that we are fighting for fairness for those Saskatchewan families."

When Question Period ended, a motion under Rule 61 against the federal decision was introduced by the new NDP member for Regina Walsh Acres, Jared Clarke, which read:

“That the Assembly express its deep concern over the unfair decision by the Government of Canada to allow oil used for home heating to be exempt from the federal carbon tax, while offering no relief to families in Saskatchewan who rely on natural gas; and

That the Assembly expresses deep concern over the divisive comments made by the Minister of Rural Economic Development, the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, on October 28th, 2023, in which she blames Canadians living on the prairies for the unfair choices of the Liberal government; and

That the Assembly calls on all parties in the Parliament of Canada to work quickly to remove the federal carbon tax from all forms of home heating for all Canadians.”

Mr. Clarke: — "Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the members for granting leave…

Saskatchewan people are looking to the government to do their part in reducing emissions in this province in a way that is thoughtful and makes sense on the prairies. Saskatchewan New Democrats are committed to doing that. However Saskatchewan people haven’t seen that from this government and they haven’t seen it from the federal government. But it is clear, Mr. Speaker, the carbon tax is not the answer that Saskatchewan people want to address climate change. And I agree with them. We, Saskatchewan New Democrats, agree with them. We do not support the federal carbon tax.

It was with great dismay this weekend that we learned that the federal government, after seeing their plummeting polling results in the Maritimes, have introduced measures to suspend the carbon tax on home heating oil in Atlantic Canada. Where is the fairness in this decision, Mr. Speaker? Saskatchewan people also need to heat their homes. Why won’t they see relief in this affordability crisis? It is ridiculous that the federal government would set this scenario up which now pits region against region in our great country."

The Minister of Crown Investments Corporation Hon. Dustin Duncan stood to respond, and to offer an amendment which read as follows: 

That all the words after “unfair choices of the Liberal government; and,” be replaced with:

That this Assembly supports the Premier of Saskatchewan’s plan to scrap the carbon tax on everything for everyone;

That if the Liberal-NDP coalition government refuses to scrap the carbon tax, that all forms of home heating across Canada be exempted from the carbon tax; and further,

That if none of the above is implemented by the Liberal- NDP coalition, that this Assembly supports the,Government of Saskatchewan’s plan to not collect and remit the carbon tax on SaskEnergy bills beginning January 1st, 2024.

Hon. Mr. Duncan: — "Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, last week the Trudeau government announced a three-year exemption of the carbon tax for home heating oil. This exemption will primarily benefit families in Atlantic Canada where a greater percentage of households use heating oil compared to the rest of the country.

The Trudeau-Singh coalition have effectively admitted that two of the myths that they have been spreading about the carbon tax are untrue. The first myth is that the carbon tax is affordable and that Canadians will get more in rebates than they pay in carbon taxes. If that were true, Mr. Speaker, then there would be no reason for the federal government to provide this exemption as an affordability measure. The second myth is that this is a tax that is being applied fairly in all areas of the country based on a set rate per tonne of greenhouse gas, GHG, emissions. Heating oil, it should be noted, Mr. Speaker, is primarily used in one part of the country and has higher GHG emissions than other sources, heat sources like natural gas which most Saskatchewan people use to heat their homes.

The federal government has effectively chosen to make life more affordable for families in one part of the country while leaving Saskatchewan families out in the cold. In Atlantic Canada, 40 per cent of households use heating oil to heat their homes compared to just 0.4 per cent of Saskatchewan households. As we know, Mr. Speaker, natural gas is our primary source of home heating in Saskatchewan with 85 per cent of households having natural gas furnaces.

Our government cannot accept the federal Liberal-NDP government giving an affordability break to people in one part of,the country but not here. So today, as you’ve already heard, Mr. Speaker, we are calling on the federal government to offer the same carbon tax exemption to Saskatchewan families by extending it to all forms of heating, home heating, including natural gas. This is the only fair thing to do for all Canadian families."

In the end, the NDP motion, and the SaskParty amendment, passed on a recorded division unanimously by a 52-0 vote.

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