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Feds won't pause carbon price despite inflation


The federal government is ruling out any future pauses or exemptions to the carbon price, despite still-high inflation numbers contributing to the cost of living, according to Government House Leader Steven MacKinnon.

On Tuesday, the federal government announced a rebrand of its highly controversial carbon-pricing program, changing the name of the quarterly rebate from the Climate Action Incentive Payment to the Canada Carbon Rebate.

There are no changes to how the federal fuel pricing system and corresponding rebate will actually work, but the Liberals argue the new name will make the program easier for people to understand.

The rebranding announcement came ahead of a planned April 1 increase to the carbon price.

The federal government has faced pressure to either scrap entirely or place a temporary pause on the carbon price, the Liberals’ marquee climate policy.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, with his “axe the tax” slogan, has been staunchly opposed to the program.

And according to data from Angus Reid last November, many other Canadians are also critical of the policy, with 42 per cent of respondents saying they want to see the carbon price abolished, 17 per cent saying they would lower it temporarily, and 26 per cent saying they would keep the current rate, but hold off on any increases.

The Liberals also faced criticism in the fall for creating a carve-out to the carbon price for home heating oil, an exemption that largely benefits Atlantic Canadians.

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada is set to release the Consumer Price Index for January on Tuesday. Canada's annual inflation rate rose slightly to 3.4 per cent in December, while prices for many things, including food and rent, remained stubbornly high.

When pressed on whether the Liberals would consider a pause on the carbon price while inflation remains above the target two per cent, in an interview airing Sunday, MacKinnon gave CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos a definitive “no.”

“Experts came before the Agriculture Committee … in the last couple of weeks, and said, there's no provable link between food prices, for example, and the price on carbon,” he also said. “So you know, these rebates are working, they are going into people's bank accounts on the 16th of the month, every three months. This is a very important feature of this plan.”

“And those rebates, I will remind, you also go up,” he added.

MacKinnon was also asked several times by Kapelos whether he believes the policy’s rebrand will help make it more palatable to Canadians.

“The 'Canada Carbon Rebate' is simple, and it's designed so that Canadians understand that A, they're getting more money in their pockets, for the most part, and B, they're part of this fight against the greenhouse gases and global warming,” he said.

With files from’s Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello and CTV’s Question Period Senior Producer Stephanie Ha


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