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Most of Canada's premiers would rather complain and "make political hay" out of the federal carbon pricing program than propose viable alternatives for reducing emissions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday as his government ignored calls to forgo its latest increase.

Trudeau was responding to Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey's call for an "emergency meeting of leaders," just the latest of several last-ditch provincial efforts to forestall a higher fuel levy.

Furey, the lone Liberal premier in the country, is among several Atlantic leaders who joined with their counterparts in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan in pushing Trudeau to abandon the planned $15-per-tonne increase, which went into effect Monday.

Many of them have long opposed any carbon levy, but say the affordability crisis plaguing Canadians is reason enough not to increase it further. Manitoba NDP Premier Wab Kinew confirmed last week that he is working on a request for his province to be exempted from the federal backstop.

Trudeau said the increase will also mean larger quarterly rebate cheques, which families are next set to receive on April 15 to help offset the higher cost of fuel.

He and other carbon pricing proponents say critics are ignoring the fact that Canadian families receive quarterly rebate cheques, which are more generous to low-income households, to help them offset the upfront costs.

They also point to the costs climate change has imposed on Canadians through disasters such as wildfires or floods.

At a news conference in Toronto, Trudeau said the premiers have failed to propose any alternatives.

"All those premiers that are busy complaining about the price on pollution, but not putting forward a concrete alternative that they think would be better for their communities, are just playing politics," he said.

Premiers are using the carbon price increase to further their own political interests, Trudeau says. #cdnpoli #carbonpricing #carbontax

In a letter to Trudeau, Furey defended the actions taken by his province to date to lower greenhouse gas emissions, saying Ottawa is going to have to make a "larger strategic investment" if it hopes to have "any meaningful impact" on Canada's carbon output.

"The threat of climate change is pressing," he wrote. "There is wide consensus that decarbonization is imperative; no serious counter-arguments remain. The only question is how best, at this time, to do so."

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who last week testified before a parliamentary committee about his opposition to the increase, tweeted Monday that the only way to prevent future increases is a change in government.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, who is riding high over the Liberals in public opinion polls, has challenged Trudeau to make the next federal vote a "carbon tax election." That election must take place on or before Oct. 20, 2025.

Poilievre has also spent the last month hosting "axe the tax" rallies across the country with the same message. Speaking to reporters ahead of a planned rally in Nanaimo, B.C., he pledged that a future Conservative government would "reduce emissions and costs" through a different approach when it comes to the environment.

"(Trudeau's) approach is taxes," he said. "Mine is technology."

Protesters gathered in a number of locations across the country Monday echoing Poilievre's call for the federal government to "axe the tax."

At around noon, dozens of people were gathered on Parliament Hill, some waving signs while others draped themselves in Canadian flags or expletive-laced messages about the prime minister.

Protesters also temporarily blocked the Trans-Canada Highway linking Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. News reports showed demonstrators near Aulac, N.B., carrying signs that read, "axe the tax," and "Trudeau must go."

By mid-afternoon, New Brunswick RCMP said one lane of the highway was open in both directions.

While Poilievre has promised to kill the consumer carbon price, he has been less clear on whether he intends to touch the industrial price for heavy emitters.

Last week, some 200 economists and academics from universities across the country released an open letter defending carbon pricing as the most low-cost way to reduce emissions, as opposed to imposing stricter regulations.

The Liberal party circulated a petition on social media Monday accusing Poilievre of wanting to slash the rebate cheques, which range from $760 to nearly $1,800 per year, depending on where the recipient lives.

Trudeau has accused conservative premiers of lying about the policy's affect inflation and has challenged his provincial critics to present alternative plans to reduce emissions.

For months, he and his ministers have been struggling to find support for the years-old policy as Canadians find themselves paying higher food and housing prices, and Poilievre aggressively campaigns against the carbon price.

Back in February, the federal government rebranded the payments Canadians receive as the "Canada Carbon Rebate," formerly the "Climate Action Incentive," in an effort to boost public support for the policy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2024.

— With files from Lyndsay Armstrong in Halifax

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Of course they are! Stoked by social media Conservative and Fraser Institute misleading information and outright lies, combined with Poilieve's gaslighting campaign, supplemented by Smith and Moe, how can our Leadership stand it? Resisting would be politically costly.
So here we go again with road blocking and another trucker campaign, again based on lies and misinformation. Democracy? Nope just rabble rousers thinking of their 15 minutes combined with empty headed leaders

"Trudeau's approach is taxes. Mine is technology." -- Pierre Poilievre

OMG! Poilievre now believes in renewable energy! Will miracles never cease?