Extreme disappointment is the reaction around the agriculture community, as Bill C-234 was amended to remove the carbon tax exemption for natural gas and propane used to heat & cool barns and other farm buildings.
It was a tight vote among Senators – 40 to 39 in favour of the amendment – and once it passes 3rd reading it will go down to the House of Commons for debate.
President of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association Garner Deobald doesn’t have high hopes of the bill getting passed.
“With the Senate making that amendment, it really just shows that they really aren’t interested in reducing the cost of food and in many cases we’ll see inflation on food just increase costs…due to the carbon tax so yes, very disappointing.” said Deobald.
CEO of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association Grant McLellan thought it was a sure thing to approve.
“We had been kind of the mind up to two or three months ago that this was going to be a sure thing. I, myself, and one of our board members had traveled to Ottawa earlier this year to advocate on behalf of this legislation in addition to other issues. So it’s extremely disappointing to see those amendments pass and go back to the House (of Commons). It means effectively, we’re not going to see this exemption in place before the next election.”
Conservative Agriculture Critic John Barlow says now that the bill is returning to the House of Commons, it will be at the bottom of the pile of other bills before it is debated. He says however the Conservatives will do everything they can to speed up the process of getting it back up to the Senate.
“We’re going to try to look at every procedural tool we have; we can try to get unanimous consent in the House to repeal this amendment from the Senate and get it back up to the Senate – that would expedite the process,” Barlow said. “But for that to be successful we would need every member of the House to agree, and as we know, the Liberals are opposed to this bill. For some reason they don’t want to give farmers a financial break of close to a billion dollars and lower food costs for Canadians, so it really is a frustration that the Liberals are fighting so hard against farmers and Canadian consumers.”
From a farm group perspective, McLellan says they’re going to have to double their efforts in order to change the outcome.
“We continue to work with our partners at the national level – the Canadian Cattle Association, NCFA (National Cattle Feeder’s Association), and we’ll work with our local MP’s here in the Province of Saskatchewan as well; continuing to impress upon them the importance of this exemption,” he said. “Dust ourselves off and get back in front of these decision-makers and sharpen our pencils in terms of some of the arguments.”
“This is a board meeting of the Stock Growers and this will be high on the agenda and definitely will have some approach to dealing with it or supporting it once the meeting is complete,” said Deobald of an upcoming meeting which will feature Bill C-234 as a topic of discussion.
Bill 234 still has the exemption for fuel used for grain drying.