The federal Conservatives and a lot of premiers are up in arms after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a three-year pause on the carbon price for heating oil largely used in Atlantic Canada.

They argue Canadians who rely on natural gas to heat their homes in places like Alberta and Saskatchewan should also get a break. The demands for an exemption for natural gas used in home heating were accompanied by more widespread calls to eliminate the federal pollution pricing system altogether.

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre was quick to characterize Trudeau’s announcement as a “panicked flip-flop” on the federal carbon pricing regime, and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to pan the decision.

“Although I congratulate Atlantic Canadians for a well-deserved break from the carbon tax on home heating oil, I am frankly disturbed that same break will not be extended to Albertans and those from Saskatchewan and elsewhere in Canada who heat their homes with natural gas,” said Smith in a post on X on Oct. 26.

Moe’s video, also posted to X, called on the federal government to extend the exemption to all forms of home heating. “Hopefully, that exemption will be provided soon, but if not, effective Jan. 1, SaskEnergy will stop collecting and submitting the carbon tax on natural gas, effectively providing Saskatchewan residents with the very same exemption the federal government is giving heating oil,” said Moe.

“As a premier, I cannot accept the federal government giving an affordability break to people in one part of Canada but not here,” said Moe.

After the announcement last week, Smith, Moe, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston and Ontario Premier Doug Ford all issued statements calling for the carbon price to be scrapped altogether.

The Liberals are also catching heat from NDP MPs, including their leader Jagmeet Singh who said, “Last week’s announcement on home heating only benefits Canadians that live where Liberals need to save their seats” in question period on Oct. 30.

The federal Conservatives and a lot of premiers are up in arms after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a three-year pause on the carbon price for heating oil largely used in Atlantic Canada.

Nearly 30 per cent of households in Atlantic Canada now use home heating oil, compared to just eight per cent in the rest of Canada, according to the federal government. Although the policy change is targeted at Atlantic Canadians, it will apply to all Canadians in jurisdictions covered by the federal carbon pricing system who rely on this expensive fuel.

The federal government also increased the rural top-up to the carbon price rebate from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, another one of several changes a group of Atlantic MPs had demanded for months. These changes are paired with increased support to help Atlantic Canadians switch from oil to heat pumps by increasing federal grants for homeowners from $10,000 to $15,000 and introducing an upfront payment of $250 for low- to median-income households using heating oil to make the switch. The new supports will begin rolling out in Atlantic provinces that have agreed to joint federal-provincial delivery of the oil to heat pump affordability programs, with the potential to expand to other provinces and territories, according to the federal government.

In question period on Oct. 30, multiple Conservative MPs, including Poilievre, suggested Liberal MPs outside Atlantic Canada are “useless” for being unable to secure carbon pricing carveouts that benefit their constituents.

Conservative and NDP MPs homed in on comments Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings made to CTV on Oct. 28 when asked whether similar exemptions for other regions are being considered.

“That's a discussion that we'll have down the road when we know that this one is working, but I can tell you, [the] 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,” Hutchings said on CTV’s Question Period.

The Liberals currently hold 24 seats in the four Atlantic provinces, making it an important region for the party to shore up support as Poilievre leads in the polls. There are two Liberal MPs in Alberta, four in Manitoba and none in Saskatchewan.

In a joint statement, NDP MPs Laurel Collins and Charlie Angus called the federal government’s measures “a long-overdue reprieve” for Atlantic Canadians, but want to see relief provided to families all across the country struggling with affordability.

“The Liberals seem to be hand-picking who they help based on their own political interests, leaving families in northern Ontario, Alberta and other parts of the country behind,” said the joint statement.

Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz took issue with the exemption for Atlantic Canadians. Her letter to Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault cites previous comments he made stating it wouldn’t be fair to carve out exemptions for certain provinces. Guilbeault’s comments were in reference to the clean electricity regulations and at the time, he said the federal government “didn't do it for pricing.”

By instituting a three-year pause on the carbon price for oil used to heat homes in Atlantic Canada, Trudeau “has just defined the issue of the next election,” Poilievre told MPs on Monday morning in the House of Commons.

Poilievre began the day with a speech pledging to “axe the tax for everyone and forever” before launching into the debate on his housing bill. Later in the day, question period was dominated by countless carbon tax questions from Conservative MPs, all of whom used a similar script. Quips about Trudeau finally admitting the carbon tax is unaffordable, calling Liberal MPs outside Atlantic Canada “ineffectual” for not getting home heating exemptions and saying the decision and Hutchings’ comments show that only Canadians who voted Liberal can get these carveouts.

For the most part, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Guilbeault fielded the carbon tax questions. They repeatedly responded with details of the heat pump support and the need to accelerate their deployment to help reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and lower Canadians’ energy bills, reiterated that the heating oil exemption applies across the country and highlighted the Conservative Party’s lack of a climate plan.

“Canadians who live in jurisdictions where the price on pollution applies get over $1,000 a year from the Government of Canada to fight climate change,” said Government House Leader Karina Gould, referring to the quarterly rebate called the Climate Action Incentive Payment.

“When it comes to the Conservatives, they want to take that $1,000 out of the pockets of Canadians,” said Gould.

NDP MP Taylor Bachrach said the Liberals seem to “care more about rural Canada when they hold seats there than they do about helping everyone across this country” and called for the government to commit to increasing the federal heat pump rebate for all Canadians.

Wilkinson’s answer to Bachrach’s question was, in short, “Yes.”

“There is an existing heat pump program across this country that provides grants of $10,000 [and] it actually enables people to get a cheque within three days. It applies just as much in British Columbia as it does in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Wilkinson responded. “Last week, we announced we were increasing that by another $5,000 so long as provinces actually step up to be part of the solution. So yes, the answer is yes!”

Conservative Rick Perkins, a Nova Scotia MP, repeated the oft-used party line: “After eight years, the prime minister admitted his carbon tax is punishing Canadians and making life unaffordable.

“The Liberals just announced their re-election platform: vote Liberal and quadruple the carbon tax on home heating oil after the next election,” continued Perkins, calling the move a “bait and switch.”

In response, Housing Minister Sean Fraser — also representing Nova Scotians — said Perkins “missed the point of this program entirely.”

“He's concerned that people will pay a higher price after the pause has ended and the price comes back into effect. If people install a heat pump, they won't pay it at all. And that is the point,” said Fraser.

In an emailed statement to Canada’s National Observer, Green MP Mike Morrice said: “The real problem here is the billions in subsidies the federal government is giving to the oil and gas industry — as well as the excess profits we allow them to rake in with impunity — which should have long ago been reallocated to incentivize Canadians to switch to lower-cost clean energy solutions.”

Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

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There are some problems with the $10,000 Oil to Heat Pump Affordability program. First it's only for households that are at or below median income. Second because it requires all electric heat pump, homeowners will need electrical resistant backup heating. This can often require an expensive upgrade to the homes electrical panel in addition to the new heat pump and the cost of removing the old oil furnace and tank.
If the federal government can subsidize the oil industry with huge subsidies for unproven carbon capture, pipelines, and LNG terminals, it can better subsidize home retrofits. It's quite pathetic at the current time.

Excellent point on the need for electrical upgrades in many older homes and businesses. In addition, some jurisdictions charge a higher rate for "excess" consumption. BC Hydro charges 10 cents per kWh to most domestic consumers, a pretty moderate rate compared to many other places on the continent. The rate goes up to 14 cents per kWh when a threshold has been reached, not unlike the higher rates internet providers charge when customers exceed their monthly plan's data limit.

Electrifying a house to a 200 amp level to accommodate switching out gas appliances for electric (heat pumps, on demand HW tanks, induction stoves...) could push the rste higher. EVs add even more draw.

Not many people can afford to add solar to compensate, and in BC the utility will be cutting its net metering credit by 60% in a couple of months. That means those who can afford solar need to up the game more and purchase a couple of battery packs at $12,000 each, using the grid only to top up the batteries.

I have several neighbours who have opted not to disconnect gas because they "cannot afford" heat pumps and system upgrades together, even with federal and provincial rebates. But some contradict themselves and buy a new car every five years, or an unnecessary second car.

Go figure.

Perhaps a better title for this story is "Conservative climate arsonists complain because there in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry."
People need to read the book "The Petroleum Papers: Inside the Far-Right Conspiracy to Cover Up Climate Change", then maybe people would understand the main foreign interest that warps Canada's politics.
This doesn't mean the Liberals or NDP are great but at least they're no where near as bad as the Conservatives.

Great book suggestion ie. "The Petroleum Papers: Inside the Far-Right Conspiracy to Cover Up Climate Change" and salient points accompanying your suggestion.
I also highly recommend the PBS 'Frontline' 3 part series on dvd (check your library) and streaming if you can locate it, called "The Power of Big Oil".
In an epic three-part documentary series, FRONTLINE investigates the decades-long failure to confront the threat of climate change and the role of the fossil fuel industry.
Part One charts the fossil fuel industry’s early research on climate change and investigates industry efforts to sow seeds of doubt about the science.
Part Two explores the industry’s efforts to stall climate policy, even as evidence about climate change grew more certain in the new millennium. And as leading climate scientists issue new warnings about climate change.
Part Three examines how the fossil fuel industry worked to delay the transition to renewable energy sources — including by promoting natural gas as a cleaner alternative.

Excellent book and DVD recommendations. I have 'The Petroleum Papers' near the top of my stack of "to read" books. I'll search the online library DVD library index for the Frontline doc. PBS may have it online, but you may have to be a subscriber to view it.

Brilliant strategy on the part of the Liberals, calling out the party of NO by being the party of YES.
And huge, relevant point; they're not just shoring up their party so THEY can "win," it's so we can all win; they're the ones who'll save us all from evil big oil by undermining demand. Just like they saved us from covid. Liberal means "generous" and they walk the talk.
And I laugh at pathetic PP there, crowing that this is going to be the "election issue" (a.k.a. the understatement of all time) but like that'll work in HIS favour. HA!

While I can pick apart many things the Liberals have done -- and, importantly, NOT done -- the Poilievre agenda is orders of magnitude worse when you consider their entire policy leaning, not just on climate but in their social and financial columns as well.

Next election it's ABC 123 all the way. Anyone But Conservative, do the electoral math.

From listening to Question Period, it sounds like the $10,000 heat pump payments have been bumped up to $15,000 for everyone across the country. Also, as noted, keep in mind that after this retrofit is done, heating costs should be substantially lower as 1)heat pumps use electricity and 2) they are very energy efficient. So, gas bill goes away.

As an environmentalist, I think PM Trudeau should indeed take the Conservative Party advice and not roll back Atlantic Canada's carbon tax. If you look at the EN-Roads environmental simulator, which models effects of different climate emergency interventions, the carbon tax is one of the most effective interventions for preventing global temperature increase ( It's very interesting. Give it a try, Gentle Reader: See if you can save the world.

Regarding subsidies comment: Environmental Defence's Julia Levin calculated that Canadian taxpayers subsidize fossil fuel industry to the tune of $21 billion ($19 billion through Export Development Canada). So, if Canada redirected all the fossil fuel subsidies, that would pay for a lot of heat pumps.

This piolicy is so short sighted and it very definitely sounds like a political move by Trudeau to bolster his flagging popularity. We will never stop the increasing temperature of this planet if we continue bolstering the use of fossil fuels. Canada is a carbon hog.

I don't like the fact the Liberals appear to be caving on carbon pricing in one area for political reasons.

Technically, all they needed to do is increase the heat pump rebates / grants across the board to make it more attractive to switch without monkeying with the revenue neutral and fair CT. All the rest is cynical politics.

BC was the first jurisdiction on the continent to enact a CT. Trudeau left BC alone when bringing carbon pricing to the rest of the nation; they were harmonized. So what is BC supposed to do about it's residents who use heating oil now, follow suit and eliminate its own CT while upping grants for heat pumps and causing disruption to its own stable tax system?

In BC we don't even notice the CT. All the anti-tax rhetoric on the CT and government taxes on petrol seemed to disappear overnight when the BC gov't. conducted a study on the rise in fuel prices and made the evidence very clear that oil companies jacked their own prices sky high causing an inflationary ripple through the economy. Fuel taxes stayed level and comprised a low minority of the total price.

Ditto heating oil.

But politics is a game, a contest between political parties trying to win government in order to enact their respective agendas/philosophies, so ultimately what those are makes all the difference.
So when the philosophy is liberal/Liberal/progressive it's about helping the most people possible, including women and children, and the agenda includes addressing existential climate change, them winning means we all win relatively speaking, bottom line, big picture. Why on earth do so many people prefer the weeds or missing the forest for the trees I wonder?

This will happen sooner this way though and is cleaner, so it exemplifies both action and the significant relief attached to getting out from under fossil fuels altogether while helping to phase out expensive heating oil, one of the worst offenders, so also helps out rural and low income people more than anyone where EV subsidies lean toward the wealthier. It's all doing real stuff for real people is the thing.
Also, because it's offered to all across the country, as was done with child care and health care and housing, it effectively does an end run around recalcitrant conservative provinces. Because how do the majority of the people there NOT want all those things on offer?
I weary of the conservative-based bandwagon of dumping on Trudeau, implying that he's dumb and still a kid somehow at 50 years of age when he's stick handling all these conservative adversaries so adroitly. And he radiates energy although probably a decade older than puffy PP because he has the discipline to run. So kind of the definition of leadership material I'd say....

I will not worship Trudeau after what he did to our widely respected MP, Jody Wilson Raybould, in only his first term. We and the majority of voters here were pissed off at that and voted for Jody again as an independent in the next election. There was also TMX. And reneging on electoral reform so soon after the promise was made.

Trudeau was reduced to a minority government thereafter, partly because thousands of strategic voters were pissed off at his arrogance and two-faced approach. But they were smart enough to do the math in competitive ridings and see perfectly well that arrogance and two faced approaches were better than Conservative scorched Earth, and voted accordingly.

I am past the notion that there is a political solution to climate change in this country. The much more powerful influence on carbon demand and therein emissions is economic. But that doesn't cover the social and financial ledgers. Thus strategic voting remains active where two or three moderate or progressive candidates can defeat the Conservative.

That doesn't automatically result in voting for Trudeau again. Last election saw the NDP candidate come within 4% of winning.

ABC 123.

Agreed about not worshipping anyone first off (or worshipping as a concept, period); it's more about truly despising what the appalling CPC has vomited up most recently to try and take down the eminently superior Liberals. Although their role as Canada's natural governing party is exemplified by the quiet, clever agreement with the reliably progressive NDP, I'm starting to worry that hubris may cause them to succumb to PP's latest ploy to stoke the horse race. This despite the loss of genuine moral ground.
On Jody Wilson Raybould, agreed that was wrong as was the pipeline but that at least has to be seen in context of everyone still "transitioning." And offering electoral system change wasn't a good idea when more than one provincial referendums had recently shown the inherent complications, especially when newly in government. And when Israel sports "proportional representation," KIND of displaying the potential pitfalls of that as well.
But lots of good stuff has been done while very much "working in harness," like all the women in his cabinet and Chrystia Freeland being deliberately positioned to replace him.

Unbelievable. Except that Trudeau has a habit of doing stupid things. This decision could be the death nell of the carbon tax in Canada. Politicians and industry everywhere will, and already are, asking for exemptions. The worst are the large emitters which are already not paying a carbon tax like the rest of us, but are operating under a different system; in principle they pay a tax, but if different companies operate the same way they end up paying no tax. I would like to see a thorough analysis which shows exactly how much they do pay.