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Mushroom farmer takes centre stage in Trudeau-Poilievre carbon tax exchange

Mike Medeiros is the co-owner of Carleton Mushroom Farms.  (Submitted by Lufa Farms - image credit)
Mike Medeiros is the co-owner of Carleton Mushroom Farms. (Submitted by Lufa Farms - image credit)
Mike Medeiros is the co-owner of Carleton Mushroom Farms.
Mike Medeiros is the co-owner of Carleton Mushroom Farms.

Mike Medeiros is the co-owner of Carleton Mushroom Farms in south Ottawa. (Submitted by Lufa Farms)

A heated exchange in the House of Commons thrust a south Ottawa mushroom farm into the spotlight this week.

During Wednesday's question period, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre sparred over Bill C-234, which seeks to remove the carbon tax from natural gas and propane used in farming.

At one point during their exchange Poilievre mentioned Carleton Mushroom Farms, a family business in the rural community of Osgoode, which he said could use some financial relief.

Poilievre said the carbon tax currently adds up to more than $100,000 in extra costs per year for the farm which is in his riding of Carleton.

Its co-owner Mike Medeiros told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning he recently attended the Senate to watch the bill's progress there and has talked to "all politicians" since the carbon tax went into effect.

Still, he was surprised to have his farm name-dropped in Parliament, calling the experience "quite surreal."

Asked about Poilievre's financial claims, Medeiros explained he uses boilers powered by natural gas to heat the air in barns, which he said are heavily insulated.

He also drives an electric vehicle.

But the cost of the carbon tax has crept up: $150,000 last year, on track for $173,000 this year. By 2030 he estimates it will reach $450,000, on top of heating bills.

Mike Medeiros is the co-owner of Carleton Mushroom Farms in southeast Ottawa.
Mike Medeiros is the co-owner of Carleton Mushroom Farms in southeast Ottawa.

Medeiros works at his farm in this undated photo. (Submitted by Carleton Mushroom Farms)

Overall higher production costs drive up the sticker price for mushrooms, Medeiros said.

"Instead of it being a staple, it's going to be a luxury item and it's going to affect sales. By affecting sales, I may have to cut back my farm, make it smaller," he added.

An exemption from the carbon tax, which is what would happen if Bill C-234 is enacted, would lead to a big reduction in costs, he said.

At the end of his exchange with Poilievre, Trudeau said he looked forward to hearing about the sustainable practices at Carleton Mushrooms and working with them on how "we can continue to move forward on supporting them into a brighter future."