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‘The plan is working,’ Champagne says as more premiers urge pause to carbon tax hike

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As yet another provincial leader calls on the Trudeau government to pause next month’s carbon tax hike, federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says that ‘the plan is working’ on efforts to price pollution.


The remarks came in response to a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey, published on social media Tuesday.


Furey asked the federal government to help “address the ramifications of the current challenges families face and to not compound them,” citing “punishing” inflation and cost-of-living challenges affecting his province’s most vulnerable residents.


“The coming almost 25 [per cent] increase … in the federal carbon tax on April 1st is causing understandable worry,” the letter reads. “I respectfully request that you consider pausing the implementation … at least until inflation stabilizes, interest rates lower and related economic pressures on the cost of living sufficiently cool.”


April’s tax increase to $80 from $65 per tonne of carbon emissions is part of a series of hikes, with fees scheduled to rise annually until 2030.


In an appearance on CTV News Channel’s Power Play with host Vassy Kapelos Tuesday afternoon, Champagne said he hears Furey’s voice on the issue, but that putting a price on pollution is “the right thing to do.”


“This is an investment in the future,” he said. “The plan is working, it’s going to bring more money in the pockets of Canadians, and we’re going to continue to do that.”


In a statement to CTVNews.ca, also responding to Furey’s letter, a spokesperson for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance wrote that emissions reductions brought on by carbon pricing are “the most cost-effective way to protect our communities,” and noted the Canada Carbon Rebate, which exists to address affordability challenges.


“The Canada Carbon Rebate ensures that 8 out of 10 Canadians get more back than they pay, with lower-income families benefitting the most,” the statement reads.


Provincial opposition grows


Furey is the latest in a growing number of premiers to oppose or defy elements of the carbon tax.


Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford, who has long criticized federal carbon pricing, responded to Furey’s letter Tuesday that he “couldn’t agree more.”


“People across Canada are hurting right now from the high cost of living,” reads a post from Ford’s account on X, formerly Twitter. “The federal government needs to put a stop to the carbon tax.”


Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has taken his opposition to the tax further, saying his province would not submit owed carbon pricing funds regarding natural gas to the federal government – a move described by federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault as “immoral.”


“If Premier Scott Moe decides that he wants to start breaking laws and not respecting federal laws, then measures will have to be taken,” Guilbeault said.


With files from The Canadian Press 



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