QP Wednesday: A carbon tax that isn’t a tax … or is it?
Lead question and answer
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued to defend his carbon plan Wednesday, as opposition MPs claimed it could cause Canadians to go hungry.
Conservative MP Denis Lebel led QP and said that Canadians are pessimistic about Trudeau’s plan to impose a price on carbon.
“This is bad news for taxpayers who are already paying too much. Can the prime minister, today, guarantee or promise Canadians that their basket of groceries, that the cost of their housing, heating gas, will not increase because of this carbon tax?” Lebel asked.
Trudeau said Canadians understand the need to grow the economy and create employment while protecting the environment.
The debate over Trudeau’s carbon plan, which dominated QP today, saw the prime minister stumble briefly when he described it as a “tax” — something he’s been careful to avoid doing — before quickly recovering and calling the plan “pricing on carbon”.
Too late: Over a chorus of hooting and hollering from the opposition bench, Lebel rose to stick the knife in.
“Now we agree it’s a tax, Mr. Speaker,” said Lebel.
Tory MP Pierre Poilievre also piled on Trudeau. “The prime minister told the truth, that this is a tax,” he said.
“Why is the prime minister forcing the poor to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families?”
Trudeau said he found that line of attack “a bit much” coming from a party that voted against lowering taxation on middle class households and raising it on the wealthy.
Poilievre then accused Trudeau of “taking from the have nots to give to the have-yachts.”
When carbon makes you cry
Finance critic Lisa Raitt quoted a constituent in an attempt to demonstrate the potential impact of Trudeau’s carbon plan on Canadians.
She said her friend Susan is “struggling” and “concerned” and asked what he has to say to her.
The parliamentary secretary for the minister of finance, Francois Philippe Champagne, said the government has reduced taxes and is helping middle class families.
As Raitt started talking about another friend, laughter erupted on the government benches.
“Are you kidding me? You’re laughing?” said Raitt. “Can I go now?”
“It’s not funny,” she said, her voice wavering. “The money’s just not there … What comfort do they have to give her?”