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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax consensus within his Liberal party is collapsing.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Liberal premier, Andrew Furey, might end up being the man who finally takes down the Trudeau carbon tax.

After months of trying to get Trudeau to be more flexible on the carbon tax, Furey has come out against the policy altogether.

Let’s look back at how this came to be.

It’s no secret that opposition to the Trudeau government’s punishing carbon tax was strong early on and has been growing ever since.

But a large chunk of that opposition was concentrated among conservative politicians.

Premiers like Doug Ford in Ontario, Blaine Higgs in New Brunswick and Scott Moe in Saskatchewan have all been calling on the Trudeau government to scrap the federal carbon tax since they came to power in 2018.

But until recently, Trudeau had the tacit support of most Liberal politicians at all levels.

As Trudeau has hiked his carbon tax further and further, Liberal politicians couldn’t keep selling the scheme, especially for constituents who don’t live in tiny condos in downtown metropolises.

The federal carbon tax now costs drivers 17 cents per litre at the gas pump and homeowners with natural gas are paying than $300 this winter. The federal government plants to keep raising the carbon tax until 2030, so it’ll only get worse.

Over the past year, Furey, Canada’s lone Liberal first minister, has gone from supporting Trudeau’s carbon tax to becoming an outright antagonist.

Last year, Furey called on the federal government to stop charging the carbon tax on home heating oil, which a large percentage of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians use to heat their homes.

Soon thereafter, Newfoundland and Labrador Member of Parliament Ken McDonald courageously voted to repeal the federal carbon tax and nearly launched a rebellion in the Liberal caucus among Atlantic Liberal MPs. In response, Trudeau carved out a carbon tax exemption for home heating oil for the next three years.

But Furey wasn’t satisfied.

In the lead up to the Trudeau government’s 2024 carbon tax hike, which occurred on April 1, Furey signed an open letter to Trudeau calling on the federal government to cancel its planned hike. Six other premiers joined him in that effort.

Yet Trudeau was defiant and let the 23 per cent carbon tax increase go ahead.

That’s when Furey threw down the gauntlet.

In a letter to Trudeau, Furey declared openly what the vast majority of Canadians already know: the carbon tax is the wrong approach when it comes to protecting the environment.

Unlike Canadians living in downtown Toronto or Vancouver, with tiny condos and easy access to public transit, Furey notes Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can’t still need to drive to work and heat their homes no matter how high the carbon tax goes.

The idea behind the carbon tax is that as prices get too high, consumers change their behaviour and use less carbon intensive methods to heat their homes and get to work.

But those living in rural Canada can’t hop on the subway or rely on a heat pump.

Furey notes in his letter that for many, “there are no alternatives available.” So, if Trudeau’s goal is to use the carbon tax to lower emissions, that goal “is not being achieved at this time.”

Furey concludes: “We need a constructive approach to decarbonize our environment without placing the burden on individual families who simply do not have viable alternative options.”

Furey is calling on Trudeau to convene an emergency meeting of Canada’s premiers to search for alternatives to the carbon tax.

Seventy per cent of Canadians opposed Trudeau’s carbon tax hike on April 1. It’s a good bet that number will keep going up every time the tax goes up. Furey is right to point out that obvious reality and the prime minister should listen.

Jay Goldberg is the Interim Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation


The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

If Canadians want to find an example of a Liberal politician who cares about affordability, they should look to St. John’s, not Ottawa.

Time and time again, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey has stood on the side of taxpayers.

The latest example is his government’s decision to extend its 8.05 cent per litre gas tax cut for another year.

The gas tax cut has been in place for 21 months and has saved the average two-car Newfoundland and Labrador family more than $800. Another 12 months of lower gas prices will see family savings soar to more than $1,000.

Furey first announced the temporary tax cut in June 2022 and has now extended it twice.

The Furey government has also spoken out strongly about the detrimental impact of the carbon tax on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

In criticizing the Trudeau government’s carbon tax late last year, Furey noted “there is no subway” for his constituents to take as an alternative to the ever-increasing costs of driving a car to get to work or to bring kids to school.

That comment was a jibe at the infamous remarks federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland made when encouraging Canadians who can’t afford to pay the carbon tax to bike or take transit.

Furey noted if rural Canadians don’t have other transit options – and many don’t – then “the fundamental premise on which the [carbon tax] is based is flawed.”

Furey was also a leader in calling on Trudeau to take the carbon tax off all home heating, noting repeatedly that heating one’s home in Canada in the winter is not optional.

Under pressure, Trudeau finally did so through a temporary suspension of the carbon tax on home heating oil, which is a popular method of home heating in Atlantic Canada, but not in other regions of the country.

To Furey’s credit, he continued to call on the federal government to offer relief to Canadians who don’t use furnace oil for home heating.

Juxtapose that against the policies of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Without campaigning on it, Trudeau sprung a carbon tax on Canadians in 2019. He’s increased it every year since. And he plans to keep jacking it up every year until 2030.

Trudeau has tried to sell his policies by claiming most Canadians are getting more money back from carbon tax rebates than they pay in carbon taxes. Many of Trudeau’s allies have suggested that somehow the carbon tax actually is an affordability measure.

But the Parliamentary Budget Officer has laid out the truth: the average Canadian family is losing money from the carbon tax, big time.

The average Newfoundland and Labrador family lost $347 from the carbon tax last year, even after the rebates. That’s set to climb to $1,316 a year by 2030.

For years, Trudeau told us families would be better off with the carbon tax. But after pressure from Furey and other Atlantic Canadian politicians, he temporarily removed the carbon tax on home heating oil for the next three years.

If that’s not a mea culpa that the carbon tax makes life less affordable, then Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny must be real.

The broader contrast between Furey and Trudeau is their approach to cost of living. Furey looks at what’s taking cash out of families’ wallets – gas and carbon taxes – and tries to lessen that burden by fighting for lower taxes. Trudeau’s solution to make life more affordable appears to be more taxes, more spending and more debt.

The bottom line is that Trudeau, who is sinking in the polls and faces frustrated taxpayers from coast to coast, should learn a thing or two from Furey. Canadians want life to be more affordable, and that means lowering the tax burden, not increasing it.

Jay Goldberg is the Interim Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation


The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

As the spiked eggnog becomes a distant memory in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for the Furey government to outline a pro-taxpayer agenda that can help cure your high-tax hangover.

Taxpayers were hammered last year with the highest inflation rates in decades and soaring living costs. The best way for the government to ring in the new year is to leave more money in taxpayers’ wallets, where it belongs.

Thanks to inflation, which damaged taxpayer purchasing power, most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were forced to make do in 2022 with the equivalent of 11 months of the wages they earned in 2021.

A huge part of the inflation squeeze has been government. Governments have profited off of inflation as taxpayers felt the pinch.

Last year alone, the Furey government brought in $231 million more than it expected in sales tax revenue due to inflation. Sales tax is charged as a percentage of the final sale price of a good or service. When prices go up, so too does sales tax revenue.

To put that into perspective, the Furey government could lower the HST by one percentage point and leave $143 million more in taxpayers’ wallets. Government revenue would still be up by nearly $90 million, but Newfoundlanders and Labradorians would have more money to spend on gas, groceries and other essentials.

To pay for even more sales tax relief, Furey could eliminate corporate welfare handouts, which cost the province over $100 million in 2022.

Another key plank in the 2023 taxpayer agenda is to extend Premier Andrew Furey’s gas tax cut for another year. In June of 2022, Furey listened to millions of hard-working taxpayers who told the government that getting to work or school was becoming unaffordable. Furey slashed the gas tax by seven cents per litre, saving the typical Newfoundland and Labrador family $275 over the course of the remainder of 2022.

Thankfully, the Furey government announced late last year that it planned to extend the gas tax cut until March 31, 2023. While an extension is welcome, it needs to be lengthened. Taxpayers need certainty in 2023, and one way the government can give it to them is to extend the gas tax cut through the end of 2023, which is exactly what the Ford government in Ontario opted to do.

It’s also time to end Furey’s pet project of taxing pop. Last September, the Furey government introduced a 20 cent per litre pop tax. But evidence from around the world has shown that these taxes just don’t work. Pepsi lovers might just turn to a cheaper generic brand. And shoppers can still get their sugar fix in a fancy frappuccino at Starbucks or through candy at the grocery store. Both items have more sugar but aren’t subject to Furey’s pop tax.

The pop tax is regressive and hits lower income taxpayers the hardest. It’s also an ineffective policy and one that should be tossed to the ash heap of history.

Finally, Furey needs to work on balancing the books. Last year’s deficit was over half a billion dollars less than the government originally projected. That’s good news. But Newfoundland and Labrador is carrying a massive debt load that’s crossed the $10 billion mark. That’s a huge number for a small province and it’s heading in the wrong direction. Furey should implement the recommendations made by the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team’s Report, which offers a path toward spending efficiencies that could swiftly balance the budget.

By cutting the sales tax, extending the gas tax cut, ending the pop tax and balancing the books, Furey can ensure that 2023 is a much friendlier year for taxpayers than the year that just finally came to a close.

Jay Goldberg is the Interim Atlantic Director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.