Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Welcome to the Senate, minister.
We’re studying Bill C-234, which seeks to grant exemptions for the heating of farm buildings for a minimum of eight years. On one hand, we have the government, which, a few weeks ago, announced a three-year exemption for families who heat their homes with oil. On the other, we have a House of Commons that refused to generally extend the heating exemption to homes where children live.
Minister, don’t you think that returning Bill C-234 to the House of Commons would give MPs an opportunity to clean this bill up a bit and make the exemptions more consistent?
Hon. Steven Guilbeault, P.C., M.P., Minister of Environment and Climate Change: It’s not up to me as a member of the House of Commons to tell the Senate how to act or how to vote. The Conservative Party did that with the Conservative senators, but we don’t work that way.
You have the freedom to decide what you want to do with Bill C-234. It is common knowledge that my party and I voted against that bill in the House of Commons.
When it comes to the announcement that was made a few wees ago regarding home heating oil, we didn’t apply the carbon tax because there were no other alternatives available. The same parallel can be drawn with agricultural applications. We realized that families who are still heating their homes with oil can’t afford to make the transition to heat pumps, even with the help of the programs that we put in place. These families can’t afford to pay the difference in cost.
That is why we reached an agreement with three provinces to make heat pumps free for that segment of the population. I think the Prime Minister was very clear about the fact that no other exemptions to the carbon tax will be granted.
Senator Dalphond: If the bill were to go back to the House of Commons, would the government commit to working with the opposition parties to come up with solutions that more adequately meet farmers’ needs and are part of a more coherent carbon pricing policy?
Mr. Guilbeault: Of course.