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Poilievre-led attempt to bring down Trudeau minority over carbon tax fails


Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's attempt to pass a vote of non-confidence and bring down Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal minority government over the carbon tax failed Thursday.

After a day of debate seeing MPs air their grievances over the climate policy, as well as the state of political discourse surrounding it, Trudeau ultimately prevailed, securing majority support in defeating the motion of non-confidence.

The procedural manoeuvre was an escalation of the Official Opposition's pollution-pricing pushback, buoyed by the growing cross-Canada resistance to the April 1 carbon price increase to $80 from $65 per tonne of carbon emissions.

Leading off a daylong debate in the House of Commons before leaving town for a fundraising event on Bay Street in downtown Toronto, Poilievre pushed for Parliament to be dissolved and an election called.

"After eight years, it is clear that this NDP-Liberal prime minister is not worth the cost, the crime or the corruption," he said. "We cannot in good conscience stand by while this prime minister imposes more misery and suffering on the Canadian people."

The Official Opposition leader cast his vote on this rarely employed and potentially consequential parliamentary mechanism virtually.

His absence was brought up by NDP MP Charlie Angus, who questioned why Poilievre was leaving his "poor" MPs "to do the heavy lifting of bringing down the government" while he was off "fundraising with his lobbyist friends."

Panning Poilievre's ploy as brinksmanship politicking, federal NDP, Bloc Quebecois, and Green MPs sided with the Liberals, seeing only the Conservatives and Independent MP Kevin Vuong declaring a loss of confidence in the prime minister.

The final vote tally was 204 "nays" to 116 "yeas."

The prospect of the government falling over this motion was highly unlikely because the Liberals continue to maintain a supply-and-confidence deal with the federal New Democrats designed to keep Trudeau's government in power until June 2025, in exchange for progress on NDP priorities.

Thursday's vote came one day before the two-year anniversary of that two-party pact.

The agreement requires the NDP to vote with the Liberals on confidence motions such as motions of supply or money votes; motions declared by the government to be questions of confidence; and "explicitly worded motions which state that the House has, or has not, confidence in the government."

Thursday's motion falls under this umbrella, reading in part "that the House declare non-confidence in the prime minister and his costly government ... and call for the House to be dissolved so Canadians can vote in a carbon tax election."

Rebuffing the attempt to bring his time in Canada's top job to an early end, Trudeau — who also voted virtually — suggested he'd be ready to fight an election on the carbon tax, noting his party won the last three with a price on pollution as a marquee climate platform plank.

Doubling down in a fundraising email to party supporters Thursday morning, Liberal campaign director Jeremy Broadhurst called the vote a "crucial moment" for the party's efforts to continue fighting climate change.

During question period, cabinet ministers took shot after shot at their critics across the aisle, extolling the economic benefit of the Canada Carbon Rebate, while accusing the Conservatives of being "reckless" on the environment and on affordability.

"The Conservatives need to stop spreading falsehoods. The PBO [Parliamentary Budget Officer] has been very clear that eight out of 10 Canadian families get more money back. It is true now, it will be true in 2030. The only thing that these folks are going to do by taking away the rebate is to make those on modest incomes poorer," Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said.

"Shame on you for that," he said, adding that Poilievre's yet-to-actually-be articulated climate plan is "essentially to let the planet burn." 

Immediately following the vote, the Conservatives sent out a statement accusing the Bloc and NDP of abandoning their constituents by deciding to "prop up the historically unpopular Liberal prime minister in the twilight of his disastrous government."


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