OTTAWA (Reuters): Canada’s main opposition Conservative Party forced the House of Commons to sit overnight in a filibuster that it says will end when Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau drops his carbon pricing system that it blames for fueling inflation.
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre brought bags of fast food to his caucus after midnight and stood to move motions to “axe” the carbon tax until 6 a.m. ET (1100 GMT) – all of which failed.
Trudeau and much of the Liberal caucus also voted through the night to defeat the Conservative motions and slowly make progress on the passage of budget-related legislation that funds the various government departments.
“We have successfully killed a day of government business,” Conservative House leader Andrew Scheer told reporters on Friday, his eyes puffy from lack of sleep.
“We are voting against the budget. We’re just doing it in a little bit of a different way this time to highlight the fact that Justin Trudeau is going to radically increase the carbon tax,” Scheer said. The carbon tax is set to increase over time.
Poilievre would win a majority if a vote were held today, polls show, and he has gathered momentum by accusing Trudeau of failing to protect Canadians from cost-of-living increases. Inflation exceeded 8% last year but in October it was just a notch above 3%. An election is not due until 2025.
The federal carbon tax, in effect since 2019, is Trudeau’s signature climate policy and is intended to discourage use of fossil fuels and accelerate a switch to clean energy.
“We’re not axing the tax,” Trudeau told reporters in the House on Friday.
Canadians receive quarterly rebates to make the carbon tax revenue neutral, but Trudeau offered in October a three-year carve-out for home heating oil under pressure from Liberal lawmakers on the Atlantic coast.
That move appeared to confirm the Conservative view that the carbon tax was a burden on households and reignited debate over the policy.
Voting on the government supply legislation is about half over, Scheer said, so the filibuster is not likely to last into next week. The House will close on Dec. 15 for the holidays.
“Mr. Poilievre continues to gaslight Canadians for clickbait,” Liberal House leader Karina Gould told reporters.
“They are literally trying to shut down the government, which is the page out of the extreme-right Republican handbook in the United States. Canadians have seen the dysfunction in Washington. They don’t want that here in Ottawa.”