A 180-degree turn on bill to exempt fuel used for grain drying & heating barns from the carbon tax

Senators voted yesterday (Thurs) to send Bill C-234 to third and final reading — without any changes.

That’s a 180 from the amendment that had been given the green light — which would have not allowed natural gas and propane used to heat barns — to be exempt from the carbon tax.

During debate, Independent Senator Colin Deacon asked the others to reject the amendment, and approve the bill in its original form:

“Passing this bill unamended will free up the financial resources for farmers that they need in a time of enormous financial strain, freeing up the capital investment in innovative alternatives to immediately address the climate crisis,” Deacon said. “We cannot continue to punish our farmers for the carbon they use to produce our food.”

“One has to wonder how a group of Senators – respectfully – none of which are farmers, including myself, can decide that using propane for grain drying is less dangerous for the climate than using the same propane to heat chicken barns,” said Tory Senator Donald Plett during the debate. “Second, the government was already planning an announcement to lift the carbon tax from home heating fuel, while opponents of Bill C-234 were telling us that it is impossible to grant exemptions. The inconsistency is staggering.”

Plett’s comment refers a recent announcement from the federal government of a 3-year pause of the carbon tax on home heating oil in Atlantic Canada.

A handful of Senators questioned the need for exemptions, saying there are viable alternatives available on the market.

The latest development of Bill 234 comes after several farm groups, such as SaskPork, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, and the 5 Crop Development Commissions in Saskatchewan, called on Senators to reject the amendment and pass the original version of the bill.

The bill isn’t set in stone yet and it may not be until next week that the final vote actually takes place.

(With files from Cheryl Brooks and Dean Thorpe, CFCW)

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