The majority of senators rejected an amended version of Bill C-234 in a pivotal vote on Tuesday, clearing the path for the proposed on-farm carbon tax exemption to move ahead for third reading and one step closer to Royal Assent.
The private member’s bill, which was introduced by Ontario MP Ben Lobb in February 2022 and approved by the House of Commons in March of this year, would remove the federal carbon levy from natural gas and propane used on farms for activities such as drying grain and heating barns and greenhouses.
Senators aligned with the Liberal government pushed an amendment through at the Senate’s agriculture and forestry committee last month, removing farm buildings from the proposed carbon price exemption.
The motion to adopt the amended version of C-234 in the Senate on Tuesday was defeated, with 42 senators voting against it and 28 in favour. Three senators that were in the chamber, including the deputy chair of the Senate ag committee, Senator Paula Simons of Alberta, abstained.
If the amended version of the bill would have been accepted in Tuesday’s vote, the revised bill would have been sent back to the House of Commons, where the government could have delayed it indefinitely.
Instead, the original version of MP Lobb’s bill is now slated for third and final reading in the Senate on Thursday.
Many individual farmers and farm groups contacted senators over the past two weeks asking them to vote against the amended bill at the report stage. More than 1,300 emails were sent to senators through an online campaign organized by the Agriculture Carbon Alliance.
“The exemptions proposed in Bill C-234 are essential to restore working capital in farmers’ hands, enabling investments in operational efficiencies,” said Grain Growers of Canada executive director Kyle Larkin, in a news release applauding the Senate’s rejection of the amendment late Tuesday. “To safeguard farmers’ profitability, sustainability and our food security, GGC urges Senators to swiftly pass this legislation at third reading. Canadian farmers have waited too long, and further delays risk withholding essential support they urgently need.”
C-234 was approved in the House of Commons earlier this year with support from all Conservative, NDP, Bloc, and Green MPs, as well as three Liberal members. An earlier version of the bill — C-206 — was also approved by the House of Commons, but died in the Senate when the 2021 federal election was called.
#cdnag – Your voices were heard loud and clear!
The amendment to #C234 was rejected. Thank you to everyone who raised their voice and to the dedication of champions like @wellsdavid , @SenatorRobBlack, @DonPlett , @JohnBarlowMP , and @BenLobbMP ! https://t.co/nF7ZhzRgRA
— Agriculture Carbon Alliance (@cdnagalliance) November 7, 2023
Tonight was a big moment for the future of Bill #C234.
Thank you to the majority of Senators for voting in favour of an unamended bill. We look forward to getting #C234 passed at third reading in earnest to support farmers across Canada! #cdnpoli @wellsdavid @SenatorRobBlack https://t.co/gIt1gaNbbj
— Kyle Larkin (@KylePLarkin) November 7, 2023
More to come.