GODERICH — A private member’s bill to eliminate the carbon tax on fuel used to dry grain and heat barns will be debated by a parliamentary committee this month, on its way to an expected third and final vote in the House of Commons this fall.
Spearheaded by MP Ben Lobb (Conservative — Huron-Bruce), Bill C-234 passed second reading May 18 in a 170-143 vote supported by all opposition parties but opposed by the minority Liberal government. Lobb’s director of policy, Jason Tucker, said the bill was headed back to the Agriculture Committee for another day of hearings on June 16.
He said he was confident it would have the support necessary to proceed to a third reading and vote in the House, likely this September or October. “I believe we are going to succeed,” Tucker said, when asked if the bill is expected to garner the votes for final passage at third reading.
But he added the Senate must also pass it before the desired carbon-tax exemption becomes law.
The Grain Farmers of Ontario, among 14 national farm groups backing C-234, cheered the bill’s latest progress. “The support by parties across the spectrum for this bill is an incredible indication of how important it is to support the farmers who are producing the food we all need,” GFO Chair Brendan Byrne said.
Lobb’s bill would amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act to exempt grain-drying operators from the carbon tax that currently adds substantial cost to their propane and natural gas bills. It also incorporates the goal of a separate, failed bill — originating in the Senate during the last parliament — to eliminate carbon tax from fuel burned to heat livestock barns.
Canadian farmers and grain-drying operators have bitterly complained about the extra costs the Trudeau government’s carbon tax has imposed on their industry, while their American competitors face no such burden. They point out that there is no alternative to drying grain with fossil fuels. Lobb’s bill is the second crack at changing the law after a precursor bill passed third reading last summer — with 100% support from all parties except the Liberals — only to die in the Senate with last September’s election call.