In a recent development that has sent shockwaves across the political landscape, and is being criticized by Premiers from Western Canada, Last Thursday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a temporary suspension of the carbon tax on home heating bills for three years in Atlantic Canada.
This move, which aims to provide relief for households relying on heating oil in Atlantic Canada, has drawn sharp criticism from the President of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA), Paul McLauchlin.
McLauchlin, in an exclusive interview with Municipal Affairs, expressed his deep reservations about the decision, characterizing it as a manifestation of "cognitive dissonance" within the federal government's climate change strategy,
The RMA President highlighted the failure of the government to meet its climate change goals and emphasized the limited effectiveness of carbon taxes in inducing behavioural change, particularly concerning essential needs like heating, "The federal government has not yet met a single one of their climate change goals."
Discussing the use of heat pumps as an alternative to heating oil, McLauchlin noted that while they might be feasible in Atlantic Canada, their practicality in Alberta's harsh winter conditions, where temperatures frequently drop below -20 degrees, remains questionable.
McLauchlin who is also a farmer said that rural Canadians rely on energy to keep things warm and dry during the winter months, "We are large consumers of energy because we have to dry our grain we have livestock to keep."
Earlier Tuesday, on his way into Question Period, Prime Minister Trudeau said to reporters, "There will absolutely not be any other carve-outs or suspensions of the price on pollution."
McLauchlin criticized the Prime Minister's decision to intensify the policy without extending relief to all home heating bills, suggesting that this move could be detrimental, stating, "Making that signal that this is just one caveat... I think that's political suicide."
While the discussion around the price of carbon has been at times hot, McLuachlin said that by this move the Prime Minister has denigrated the role of the carbon tax, "It's actually done the opposite of what the goal would be."
McLauchlin also quipped about the geographical disparity in the government's approach, expressing solidarity with his counterparts on the East Coast while highlighting the need for a more holistic and inclusive climate policy. "My good friends on the East Coast need help, and we have always worked well at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
"They're backed into a corner, they're using a source that is volatile. And interestingly enough, they're not using a fuel source that didn't come from Canada. Most of their fuel sources are coming from Venezuela and the Middle East