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Polls show the anti-carbon tax Conservatives are winning converts in Atlantic Canada. The Liberals are running scared

Jay GoldbergIt turns out desperate pigs really do fly.

In a colossal policy reversal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a suspension of the carbon tax on home heating oil for the next three years. But that one concession favours one region over others and is far from enough to protect Canadians from the brutal realities of the carbon tax’s impact on family budgets.

Trudeau’s carbon tax concession was explicitly targeted at Atlantic Canada because it deals with home heating oil. Forty percent of Atlantic Canadian households use heating oil to heat their homes. Compare that to just two percent of Ontario households.

Atlantic Canada had a special deal with Trudeau until this summer. The federal government permitted Atlantic provinces to exempt home heating oil from their carbon taxes.

Atlantic Canada home heating oil carbon tax
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But the region’s special deal ran out in July, with full federal carbon tax pricing kicking in on Canada Day, including on heating oil.

With winter fast approaching, taxpayers in Atlantic Canada recognized the massive tax hike they were about to face just to stay warm.

Last winter, Atlantic Canadian households paid no carbon tax on their home heating oil bill. This winter, the average household was poised to spend $272.

Public opinion polls of late show Atlantic Canadians are preparing to vote with their chequebooks. The anti-carbon tax Conservatives are gaining steam.

The Conservatives forced a vote in the House of Commons on repealing the carbon tax earlier this month. One Liberal MP from Newfoundland and Labrador had the courage to stand up for his constituents and vote to repeal the tax.

Avalon MP Ken McDonald was crystal clear in articulating why he voted the way he did.

“I’ve had people tell me they can’t afford groceries,” McDonald said. “They can’t afford to heat their homes. You can’t make it more expensive on people than what they can handle. And that’s exactly what’s happening right now.”

McDonald spoke a truth Trudeau has consistently refused to hear, or at least acknowledge. The federal carbon tax is making life less affordable for Canadians.

A report from the non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Officer shows this plain as day. This year, the average Canadian family will lose between $347 and $710 due to the carbon tax, even after the rebates.

After McDonald voted to repeal the carbon tax, other Liberal MPs from Atlantic Canada voiced their concerns in public.

In the wake of all of this, Trudeau caved. He announced a three-year suspension of the carbon tax on home heating oil. Conveniently, that suspension ends just after the next federal election.

Most Ontario households use natural gas to heat their homes. It’s cleaner than home heating oil, but Trudeau is keeping the carbon tax on natural gas in place.

That’s proof that this is all about politics.

The average Ontario household using natural gas will be paying a $326 carbon tax bill this winter. Those folks won’t get an exemption under Trudeau’s new plan.

If Liberal MPs in Ontario take a courageous stand like McDonald did in Newfoundland, families here won’t get punished with a carbon tax for heating their homes.

What shouldn’t be lost in any of this is that carbon tax misery will still be felt coast to coast, even though many in Atlantic Canada are getting special treatment.

Families in every province will still pay carbon taxes at the pumps when filling up to drive the kids to school. And food will still be more expensive because truckers who ship the food and farmers who produce the food will still be paying carbon taxes on fuel.

It’s time for Trudeau to stop driving up the cost of living and dividing Canadians based on political calculations. The feds need to axe the carbon tax on everything everywhere, no matter the postal code.

Jay Goldberg is the Ontario & Interim Atlantic Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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