‘My job is not to be popular,’ Trudeau says after pressed to ditch carbon price hike

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Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed back last Wednesday (March 13) on growing demands from premiers to dump the planned April 1 hike to the consumer carbon levy, saying leaders must tackle both affordability and climate change.

“My job is not to be popular,” Trudeau said, briefly pausing and adding with a wry smile, “Although it helps.

“My job is to do the right things for Canada now and do the right things for Canadians a generation from now.”

Trudeau made the comments to reporters in Calgary after meeting earlier in the day with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith for the first time since last summer.

She and six other premiers have called on Trudeau to abandon the 23-per-cent hike to help Canadians already dealing with squeezed household budgets.

Conservative Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre has also railed against the levy and in a statement Wednesday said his party plans to force multiple votes in Parliament next week to nix the hike.

Trudeau told the news conference it’s easy for governments to put off taking action on climate change so that it’s not their problem while they’re in office, and for “short-term thinker politicians” to fight putting a price on carbon.

“Why are so many people still against (the carbon levy)?” he asked rhetorically at an unrelated announcement about the government’s dental care program.

“Well, you know, that’s a question we all have to ask.”

He said using market mechanisms, like a carbon price, to lower greenhouse gas emissions is the best way to address the issue, rather than with the “heavy hand of government” through measures like regulations and subsidies.

“I prefer a cleaner solution, a market-based solution, of saying, ‘You know what? If you’re behaving in ways that are gonna cause pollution, that is going to impact the whole community, you should pay for that pollution, so the community then doesn’t suffer the negative sides of it or have to clean it up on their own dime.'”

Trudeau said there are measures to ensure those who don’t have the means to meaningfully shrink their carbon footprint aren’t punished.

As the levy rises, so do rebates. For example, the average family of four in Alberta would get $1,800 a year.

Canada’s carbon price is set to rise by $15 to $80 a tonne on April 1.

In addition to Alberta, the governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and Saskatchewan have spoken out.

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