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PM says he doesn’t ‘understand’ NDP’s climate stance as Singh appears to shift on carbon tax

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he sympathizes with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh but no longer understands his party’s position on climate change after Singh appeared to waver on his support for the consumer carbon tax.

“I feel for the NDP and for Jagmeet. This is a hard moment. There are political headwinds,” Trudeau told reporters Friday at a press conference in Vaughan, Ont.

“There’s a lot of political pressure. I’m certainly feeling it, everyone should be feeling it, by folks out there who are worried about affordability, who are worried about climate change.”

Speaking at the Broadbent Institute’s annual policy conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Singh said his party will put forward a climate policy that won’t divide Canadians and accused Trudeau of using the climate crisis as a political wedge.

“It can’t be done by letting working families bear the cost of climate change while big polluters make bigger and bigger profits,” said Singh. “We all lose if we make Canadians choose between an affordable life and fighting the climate crisis.”

After the speech, Singh told reporters he doesn’t want the burden of fighting climate change to fall on working people — but he wouldn’t say whether that means he wants to get rid of the consumer carbon tax.

In a statement issued to CBC News, Singh said the NDP has not changed its position on the consumer carbon price.

“What we have done is commit to building a climate plan to make big polluters pay, bring down costs for Canadians, meet our emissions targets and ⁠unify people in taking on the climate crisis. Despite being in power for nine years, the Liberal government has failed to do this,” wrote Singh.

WATCH | Trudeau on NDP’s carbon tax stance: ‘This is a hard moment’ 

Trudeau on NDP’s carbon tax stance: ‘This is a hard moment’

3 hours ago

Duration 3:06

When asked about NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s apparent shift on the carbon tax, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged this is a ‘hard moment’ and that he himself is feeling political pressure over the policy. He also said, “I don’t entirely understand the position of the NDP in pulling back.”

The prime minister suggested Friday morning that Conservative arguments against the consumer carbon tax are “resonating with the NDP.”

“I don’t entirely understand the position of the NDP in pulling back both from affordability measures and from the fight against climate change, but I can assure everyone that this government, my government, will continue to step up on the fight against climate change. We’ll continue to put more money in families’ pockets,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister is referring to carbon tax rebates when he claims the NDP is pulling back from “affordability measures.” The Liberal government insists that eight out of 10 families in jurisdictions where the federal carbon tax applies receive more money in federal rebates than they pay under the tax.

New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks with reporters before attending a committee meeting on Parliament Hill, Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Ottawa.
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks with reporters before attending a committee meeting on Parliament Hill, Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Reacting to Singh’s comments, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Thursday on social media the NDP leader was “jumping ship” on the carbon tax.

“Three weeks ago, Jagmeet Singh voted with his coalition partner Justin Trudeau to hike his costly carbon tax,” Poilievre wrote. “He’s desperately trying to run from his own record. But we won’t let him forget, and we won’t let him try to fool Canadians.”

The Liberal government survived a non-confidence motion on the carbon tax in March with the backing of the Bloc Québécois and NDP.

“The Conservatives want to pretend the climate crisis isn’t real. With threats of a record forest fire season looming, we can’t afford the do-nothing approach of the Conservatives,” Singh wrote in the statement to CBC News.

In the last three elections, the NDP has run on platforms that include a price on carbon.

The federal carbon price increased to $80 per tonne on April 1. That increase means drivers pay an extra 3.3 cents per litre at the pump.

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