Senators vote to amend Bill 234 to exclude heating and cooling barns from carbon tax exemption

Bill C-234 is facing more delays, following a vote by the Senate Ag Committee this morning.

Committee members by a margin of 7-6 voted in favour of at least one major amendment to carve out an exemption from the carbon tax when it comes to drying grain, but not for heating or cooling barns.

That amendment was introduced by Quebec Senator Pierre Delphond, who mentioned alternatives in barn heating/cooling such as better insulation, in-floor heating, geothermal heat pumps, air source heat pumps, energy-efficient ventilation fans, biomass heating, and LED lights.  

“We’re familiar with some of these options from home and older buildings located in Canada. Many Canadians and businesses are investing in such ways to reduce emissions as incentivized by the carbon pricing policy,” Delphond said.

He also quoted the bill’s sponsor, Tory MP Bill Lobb, saying ‘if you look at the heating of barns it is moving lock step with the innovations that are heating our home, commercial building or an industrial building because it only makes financial sense.’

“This amendment will maintain the financial incentive to reduce emissions from raising livestock in barns by investing in alternative or efficient barn heating or cooling.” Delphond added.

That amendment set off a furious debate among Liberal and Tory senators on the committee including an attack by Tory Senator Donald Plett.

“I’ve grown up in a farming community, I know what the farmers are experiencing, I know that by these frivolous ways of stalling this bill on behalf of whoever has ordered them or instructed them to do that because we all know that has been the case,” Plett said.

The final Senator on the committee to cast a vote either yay or nay for the amendment, was Edmonton’s Paula Simons. In her comments before the vote, she outlined that she was struggling on the amendment to leave out barn heating in the exemption.

“I really do worry that it puts farmers, who farm in some of the most unforgiving climates, in a very invidious position because they’re working with a model that was never designed with their needs in mind.”

But when the vote on the amendment was taken a few minutes later, she voted in favour of the amendment.

A second amendment to lower the length of the sunset clause on the bill from 8 years to 3 was defeated by a tie vote of 7 to 7. A tie means the vote is defeated.

(With files from Dean Thorpe, CFCW)

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