The House of Commons overwhelmingly passed a bill to make food cheaper and help farmers.

In fact, the House passed the bill twice.

But after two years, the bill still isn’t law and that delay has cost families and farmers almost $100 million.

What’s stalling the democratic will of our elected representatives?

The Senate.

The bill is simple. The feds gave farmers an exemption on the carbon tax for diesel and gasoline. That helps farmers keep food prices down and compete globally. But the feds forgot to exempt the propane and natural gas farmers need to dry their grain and heat their barns.

So Conservative member of Parliament Ben Lobb introduced Bill C-234 back in February 2022 to fix that and extend the exemption to farmers’ natural gas and propane.

Bill C-234 would reduce the “financial burden the carbon tax places on all the necessary practices undertaken by farmers and ranchers like drying grain, irrigating crops, or heating and cooling livestock barns,” explains MP John Barlow who is the vice-chair of Parliament’s agriculture committee.

It may seem like a small change, but the carbon tax is a big cost for farmers, even with the existing exemptions.

The carbon tax cost Canadian farmers an average of $14,000 in 2019, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Trudeau cranked up his carbon tax every year since. That means higher costs for farmers and higher grocery prices for Canadians.

The carbon tax on propane and natural gas will cost farmers $1 billion through 2030, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Here’s the infuriating part: the problem should be fixed already.

This March, MPs passed Lobb’s Bill C-234 to remove the carbon tax from these farm fuels. Conservatives, New Democrats, the Bloc Québécois, both Green Party members and a couple independents voted in favour of the bill. Liberals Kody Blois, Heath MacDonald and Robert Morrissey also voted in favour.

This legislation has the support of the majority in the House of Commons and MPs from every party voted for it.

The bad news is the bill has been held up in the Senate ever since.

With their $169,600 base salary, maybe senators aren’t too worried about the price of milk, hamburger meat or chicken? But many Canadians are.

In fact, six in 10 worry their paycheque might not be enough to feed their families.

Farmers are working 20-hour days to get the harvest in.

You would think that might spur the Senate to more briskly shuffle this duly passed bill through the unelected Upper Chamber.

But the Senate doesn’t care. It took a gander at the bill during second reading on June 13. Since then, the bill has been collecting dust in the agriculture committee, which is chaired by Senator Robert Black.

The Senate’s fisheries committee thought it was important to meet during the summer break to “examine and report on Canada’s seal populations and their effect on Canada’s fisheries.” So why wasn’t Black willing to give up a couple summer vacation days to make sure farmers got relief during harvest?

Franco Terrazzano – Canadian Taxpayers Federation

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