The odds that the bill that would remove the federal government’s carbon tax from fuels used for grain drying and barn heating will become law before summer are fading, following delays in the Senate.
The Agriculture Carbon Alliance and its farm group members welcomed the passage of Bill C-234 at second reading in the Senate late Tuesday (June 13), but it may have come too late for the bill to receive final approval before the end of June.
ACA welcomes the passage of Bill #C234 at 2nd reading in the Senate & looks forward to its study at the Senate Agriculture & Finance committees.
— Agriculture Carbon Alliance (@cdnagalliance) June 14, 2023
Agriculture groups were hoping the bill would clear the second reading stage in the Senate during the week of June 5, leaving enough time for the Senate’s Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry to review it and have the Senate give its final approval before the summer break.
However, the bill was stalled by its critic, Senator Pierre Dalphond from Quebec, as he did not speak to the bill at second reading until late June 13.
“He’s been doing a good job of ragging the puck, but the good news is he did speak on it last night, so hopefully it will get to committee tomorrow,” says John Barlow, the Conservative shadow minister for agriculture in the House of Commons, in the June 14 interview below.
“It seems this was the Liberal government asking that senator to hold this up as long as possible,” continues Barlow.
Dalphond and a group of senators affiliated with the Progressive Senator Group were also successful in negotiating to have the bill reviewed by the Senate’s national finance committee, in addition to the agriculture committee chaired by Senator Rob Black.
The agriculture committee will have the final say at the Senate’s committee stage, but the finance committee review is expected to slow down the approval process, further decreasing the likelihood of the bill receiving Royal Assent before fall at the earliest.
Bill C-234 — a private member’s bill brought forward by Ontario MP Ben Lobb — received final approval in the House of Commons in March, when Conservative, NDP, Bloc, and Green MPs, as well as three Liberals, voted in favour of the bill at third reading.
There have been multiple legislative attempts at removing the carbon tax from on-farm uses of propane and natural gas going back to February 2020. Bill C-206 — the predecessor to C-234 — made it to the final stages in the Senate in 2021, but died before crossing the finish line when Prime Minister Trudeau called the federal election.
The possibility that the government could prorogue Parliament in the fall or call an election adds to the urgency of passing C-234, noted Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Keith Currie last week.