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Conservatives make pitches to northern voters on axing the carbon tax

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Federal campaign season appears to be in full swing if the recent Conservative visits to the region are any indication.

Last week, Opposition House Leader Andrew Scheer swung through Greater Sudbury on Thursday to make his pitch to constituents about a Conservative motion that will be voted on Monday that calls on the federal government to extend the three-year pause on carbon pricing to everyone. It comes on the heels of a decision to pause the pricing for those using home heating oil – primarily benefiting Atlantic Canada.

"A Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian. An important principle in Canada is that all Canadians are treated fairly,” he said.

“Justin Trudeau has created two classes of citizenship now with his announcement that the carbon tax will be temporarily paused off of just home heating oil. That's not fair.”

Scheer said it has been more than a year since his party leader Pierre Poilievre launched his 'Axe the Carbon Tax' campaign whereas the Prime Minister in a “desperate, panicky and gimmicky move” only just announced that he was going to pause the carbon tax for some Canadians, for some time.

"The senior Liberal minister for Newfoundland said the reason why the carbon tax will continue to punish 97 per cent of Canadians is because those people didn't vote Liberal,” said Scheer.

“That is a terrible way to govern a country, it leads to division.”

Standing in Sudbury, which is represented by Liberal member of parliament Viviane Lapointe, Scheer said his first question to the MP Lapointe would be why wasn’t she able to protect her constituents from the “punishing” carbon tax.

Scheer addressed the media while standing in front of Lapointe's office surrounded by supporters and former area candidates from the 2021 election.

He told reporters the people in Sudbury should not be punished for the way they heat their homes.

"I've already talked to people today who have had to make terrible decisions in the last few months on whether or not they can pay their grocery bill or their heating bill,” said Scheer.

He asked area constituents to call on their members of parliament to vote for the Conservative motion on Monday.

"We want Justin Trudeau to extend this pause to everyone so the next election can be a clear choice for Canadians,” said Scheer.

His comments come amid what appears to be a surge in Conservative support across the northeast.

In Sudbury alone, the party jumped seven points in the last election to finish neck and neck with the runner-up New Democrats.

The long-time politician and former party leader was asked repeatedly about why he decided to come to the city now.

"We're here because we're hearing from people in Sudbury that they're frustrated that their member of parliament has been so completely useless in protecting the citizens of this area from Justin Trudeau's punishing taxes, including the carbon tax,” Scheer said.

Appearing in a city that has fashioned itself as environmentally friendly for some time, Scheer was also asked if not carbon pricing then what? He replied his party plans to invest in new technology.

"The carbon tax has not allowed Justin Trudeau to hit a single emissions target that he set for himself,” Scheer said.

“We will greenlight green projects like a tidal power project that Justin Trudeau blocked."

After leaving downtown, Scheer and party volunteers circulated campaign-style materials outside a grocery store and gas station before moving on to campaigning outside Nickel Belt MP Marc Serre's office in Val Caron.

Lapointe, who was in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Thursday, said Scheer should do his homework and issued a statement to CTV News which reads in part:

"People living in Sudbury, and across northern Ontario, who heat their homes with oil are receiving the same three-year pause on the carbon home heating levy as those living in the Atlantic region.

And if Mr. Scheer can do a stopover in Toronto while he’s touring our province, he should ask his Conservative pal Doug Ford to step up for the people of northern Ontario and give people a rebate on the cost of heat pumps, just like other provinces are doing.”

Lapointe added the Conservative Party would be bad for Sudbury having voted against Canada's Critical Mineral strategy.

Serre echoed similar comments from Ottawa.

He said the reason why the government decided to focus on home heating oil is because it's far dirtier than other forms of energy including natural gas.

"There is a lot of emissions, its dirty heat. We focused on the one that's the dirtiest,” said Serre.

Serre agreed that the heat pumps program which three provinces have agreed to sign onto in the Atlantic was also offered to the Ford government in Ontario three months ago but he refused.

"If that's the only solution that Conservatives have and they're making a lot of noise and bumper sticker statements, there's a lot more to do,” he said, calling what happened on Thursday politicking.

“What about the Critical Minerals strategy, they would cut that, what about Volkswagen, they would cut that and the EV credits, they would cut that, renewables and daycare they would cut that.”

Serre said the government has to work with provinces, industry and constituents to tackle both affordability and environmental issues.

“It is a difficult situation but that's why we're here and I really commend a lot of individuals who are writing my office, calling my office on both sides of the issue,” he said.

The Conservative Party has also released radio ads in each of the four major markets in northeastern Ontario telling voters to contact their MP in advance of Monday's vote.

"Justin Trudeau and the NDP now say they will pause the carbon tax for some people, in some places but people like you in Timmins don't get the break this winter," Poilievre says in the ad.

"What we're seeing is the ongoing 'rage-farming' and disinformation tour Pierre Poilievre's team,” said said Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus.

“The Liberals have totally blown their carbon pricing plan.”

Angus said the NDP has always said the GST should come off home heating fuel because heating your home in the winter isn't a luxury – that’s reasonable.

“But here's the thing with the Conservatives, they have no plan to deal with pollution, the climate catastrophe, the fact that almost 200,000 people were burned out of their homes this summer,” he said.

“If you're going to come to northern Ontario and wave around you're carbon plan on home heating fuel in which hey I don't have a problem with that, then what's your plan to deal with the climate catastrophe?" he said.

Angus told CTV News he tried to amend the Conservative motion on Thursday because there are sections of the country that don't fall under the carbon tax so they tried to amend it saying those regions should also have tax taken off – however, he said the Conservatives didn't want to deal with it.

Angus said while he knows it's very cold in his region, he also knows that people want a plan to address climate change. As far as the attack ads, he said he's not worried if the Conservatives try to single him out.

"I seem to have gotten under Pierre Poilievre's skin ever since I started reminding people that this is a guy who lives in a 19-room mansion with a private chef, paid for by the taxpayers, whose never, ever, ever had a job,” said Angus.

“Poilievre, he's not a friend of the working class, I'll point that out but I got work to do and I'll continue to defend people in northern Ontario for fairness, affordability and in dealing with the climate crisis."

The Conservative tour of the region continued on Friday with Scott Aitchison appearing in Sault Ste. Marie, Adam Chambers in North Bay and Michael Barrett in Timmins.

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