The Progressive Conservatives in Manitoba are calling on Premier Wab Kinew’s government to follow Saskatchewan’s lead in no longer collecting the federal carbon tax on home heating for families and businesses.
“Manitobans have fired up their furnaces for the winter and it’s unfair they have to pay Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax cash grab while other Canadians don’t have to,” said Conservative finance critic Obby Khan on Tuesday.
“The prime minister once said that a ‘Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.’ It’s time that he stops dividing Canadians and gives a break to everyone, including Manitoba. Manitobans can’t wait for Ottawa to take action, which is why the NDP government must take the necessary step of immediately removing the carbon tax from Hydro bills.”
The Tories’ pressure on Kinew comes after the premier himself said the fight against climate change shouldn’t be laid at the feet of the working class to cover the cost, while discussing the carbon tax on Monday.
“The single greatest threat to us solving global warming is if we lose the working class, is if we lose the middle class in Canada, and right now people are hurting because of inflation,” said Kinew, while speaking with CTV News.
“So we need to show flexibility, we need to show that a government like ours, which is committed to solving global warming, is not going to just put you through economic hardship without listening to your concerns.”
Prior to meeting with Canada’s other premiers in Halifax, Kinew had said that he would not request an exemption for Manitobans, however his tone shifted this week.
Speaking alongside his other provincial counterparts, Kinew said that the carbon tax was not a “silver bullet” to address climate change.
The premiers had gathered together in an attempt to pressure Ottawa into implementing more equitable policies for all provinces across the country, with the carbon tax being a top of mind issue.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement that his government would put a three-year pause for home oil heating last week caused a stir amongst several premiers who felt that the carve-out was politically motivated.
Oil heating for homes is predominantly used in Atlantic Canada where the Liberals have a strong representation, whereas the rest of the country mostly uses natural gas for home heating.
This led several premiers in Western Canada and Premier Doug Ford in Ontario, to call for the exemption to be extended to all forms of home heating.
The Trudeau government has since denied any further exemptions on federal carbon pricing.
Last month, Kinew became premier of Manitoba with a majority NDP government and has since criticized how the climate agenda has a greater negative impact on the middle and working classes.
Kinew also asked Ottawa to provide more information on how much the carbon tax has reduced emissions since it was first implemented almost five years ago.
In particular, he asked how much more effective it was as opposed to installing heat pumps in homes and offering rebates for electric vehicles.
“The federal carbon tax is not a silver bullet. We would all want to see a silver bullet on the climate. But it actually is starting to look more and more like it’s going to be a whole suite of initiatives on home heating, on electrifying transportation, on different sectors of our economy, that when you put them together serve to reduce emissions, serve to help us solve global warming,” said Kinew.
“So I think we need to see some data, we need to see some evidence in terms of which of these policies in the toolbox are going to most move the needle to help us solve global warming.”
The Tories have since said they plan to introduce a private members’ resolution to have the province stop collecting the carbon tax through Manitoba Hydro.
“Our caucus strongly believes the carbon tax should not be charged on home heating and, with this week’s flip flop, we expect Premier Kinew to vote in favour of our upcoming resolution,” said Manitoba Hydro and the Public Utilities Board critic Grant Jackson.