During a now-notorious town hall in Peterborough, Ont., Prime Minister Trudeau last week came face to face with an issue that could become his electoral undoing — not just in Ontario, but across all of Canada.
The moment came when the Peterborough audience erupted in cheers and applause for a 54-year-old woman, Kathy Katula, who pleaded for the prime minister’s support in her battle against soaring Ontario electricity bills and the burden of living in what she described as energy poverty.
“I’m asking you, Mr. Trudeau, how do you justify to a mother of four children, three grandchildren, with physical disabilities, and working up to 15 hours a day, how is it justified for you to ask me to pay a carbon tax when I only have $65 left in my paycheque every two weeks to feed my family.”
After the audience broke out into 10 seconds of applause and shouts of support for the woman, Trudeau bobbed and weaved, riding the technicality that electricity is a local matter and that, in fact, it was the government of Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne that was responsible for Ontario’s soaring hydro bills, the product of the province’s billion-dollar carbon-fighting boondoggles.
It’s not my carbon tax, said Trudeau, backing away from the problem. “We haven’t brought in any carbon tax yet, ma’am,” he said. “It doesn’t start kicking in for another few years.” That’s technically true, but politically disingenuous. The federal government has declared its intention to have a carbon tax installed in all provinces by 2018, rising to $50 a tonne by 2020, and has praised Ontario’s new cap-and-trade tax — on gasoline, natural gas and other fossil fuels — for being one of the first to fulfill Ottawa’s national carbon strategy.
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