In the wake of a cabinet minister’s controversial claim that people in the Prairies should elect more Liberals if they want to secure carve-outs in federal carbon policy, Employment Minister and Alberta MP Randy Boissonnault insists that “Liberals fight for every seat that (they) get.”
Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings received significant backlash after she said on CTV’s Question Period last Sunday that “Atlantic Caucus was vocal with what they’ve heard from their constituents, and perhaps they need to elect more Liberals in the Prairies so that we can have that conversation as well.”
Just days prior, the federal government announced changes to its marquee climate policy, the carbon price, namely by granting a three-year pause on the federal fuel charge on home heating oil.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced the federal government would be doubling the carbon rebate for rural households and expanding incentives for some Canadians to move to a heat pump.
However, the change primarily impacts and benefits Atlantic Canadians, where much larger percentages of households use heating oil.
Hutchings’ comments last week dominated debate in the House of Commons and spurred calls from opposition parties for the federal government to extend the carbon tax break to all forms of home heating.
Trudeau also said this week there would “absolutely not be any other carve-outs or suspensions of the price on pollution.”
Boissonnault — who is one of just two Liberal MPs, and the sole cabinet minister, in Alberta — told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos in an interview airing Sunday that Canada is “built on compromises and carve-outs, regardless of who you vote for.”
“I think you can raise that with Minister Hutchings,” he said. “What I can say is that the work that I’ve done in this seat as minister and as MP, and along with George Chahal out of Calgary, is deliver billions of dollars for Albertans.”
Boissonnault cited Alberta’s phase-out of coal as an example of the federal and provincial governments working together to reduce emissions.
“And guess what? The country helped us do that,” he said. “That didn’t help Ontario and it didn’t help Quebec. That was a regional carve-out to make sure that we could get Alberta off of coal.”
He added the recently announced carve-out in the carbon price for households using heating oil will benefit people across the country, regardless of whether there is a larger percentage of people to whom it would apply in Atlantic Canada.
“Liberals fight for every seat that we get, and we do that work with our colleagues across the country,” he said. “And what we have here is a program that’s going to help Albertans, Ontarians, folks in Atlantic Canada, switch from home heating oil — which is two-to-four times more expensive, and twice as polluting — to heat pumps.”
Boissonnault in his interview also discussed Alberta’s proposal to leave the Canada Pension Plan and whether Alberta should receive a carve-out of its own in the federal climate policy to push the deadline to achieve a net-zero electricity grid.
You can watch the full interview on CTV’s Question Period Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.
With files from CTVNews.ca’s Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello and CTV’s Question Period Senior Producer Stephanie Ha