Madam Speaker, I am glad to be able to rise, following up on my question from a few weeks ago about the so-called carbon tax exemption being provided on home heating oil, which only 3% of Canadians are going to be able to enjoy, and only with the condition that it is for just three years. After the three years, everybody who is on home heating oil will have their carbon tax massively increased, which just so happens to be the timeline for the next federal election. This will be important for the question I am going to ask the parliamentary secretary. It drastically impacts the political fortunes of the Liberal Party of Canada.
I want to draw the attention of the House to a statement by an economics professor from the University of Calgary, who said the following: “In what can only be described as a cynical political move to grab regional votes, the Liberals have undermined their signature—and principled—cornerstone climate policy. They basically teed up the opposition comments for them. I fear and predict it all unravels from here.” This was from Professor Blake Shaffer, an associate professor in the Department of Economics and School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.
Another well-known Albertan, a professor from the University of Alberta, Trevor Tombe, says this: “The carbon tax is dead.” He goes on to explain why it is dead.
I want to draw the attention of the House, and also of my constituents, to this. My constituents are extremely worried. Their taxes have gone up massively. They are paying more on their mortgages, which have doubled. Rents have doubled. They are paying more on their natural gas bill, and for some it has more than doubled. There are many single-family detached homes in my riding, and on their natural gas bill, people are getting sticker shock month after month. We are heading into the winter months, and it is only getting worse. They will not get to enjoy a reprieve from the carbon tax; in fact, they are going to be paying more. Just like the people in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, many of us use natural gas for our home heating. I note that the Saskatchewan government has now moved to stop the Saskatchewan crown corporation from passing on carbon tax revenues to the federal government. There is a great Yiddish proverb that says that you can't dance with two people when you have only one. There is another term that sounds way better in Yiddish, but it suggests that one cannot do two things at the same time.
The government claimed, during the carbon tax case, that it must proceed with a backstop on all provinces in Canada, and it must impose it. It has undermined its own legal argument that it made before the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Canada officials have made arguments that it must proceed with the carbon tax in this manner because any type of carve-out for home heating oil basically undermines the constitutionality now of the tax itself. In that case, the Supreme Court explicitly left open the possibility that regulations under the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act could be unconstitutional, even if the act is constitutional, and that the act's being constitutional is largely based on this fact, its indivisibility of a minimum price on greenhouse gas pollutants.
Then it goes on. There are two more legal reasons why it has completely undermined the legal case to maintain the carbon tax with this latest carve-out. It is that it is political. A Liberal cabinet minister made the claim that the only reason that it is not applying to those in my home province of Alberta, and in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which do not have the reduction of the carbon tax temporarily, is that it is political.
My question for the parliamentary secretary is this: Does he not then agree with the economics professors from my home province that his own government has completely undermined the case for the carbon tax and that it is hurting the people of Alberta?