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Tories threaten to delay government work, hold up billions over price on pollution

OTTAWA — The official Opposition has threatened to delay government work and hold up billions of dollars in spending if the Liberal government doesn't drastically revise its carbon-pricing plan.

The Conservatives delivered a taste of their plan with the introduction of as many as 20,000 amendments to an 11-page government bill that aims to create sustainable jobs as part of the transition to a net-zero emissions economy.

The natural resources committee is set to go through the amendments, which the Tories believe could take months to vote on individually.

The Conservatives also plan to force 135 votes on the government's estimates Thursday in a process they believe could take more than 24 hours.

The Opposition wants the federal carbon-pricing plan removed from all home heating for families, farmers and First Nations, as they believe the price on pollution is increasing costs for those groups.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of ruining Christmas for Canadians, citing a housing shortage, rent increases and the cost of living.

"Justin Trudeau has ensured that your turkey dinner will have a big, fat, growing carbon tax caked on top of it," Poilievre told his caucus Wednesday, with media invited to attend.

"That is not part of the recipe for turkey dinner that Canadians were looking for."

The Tories are also eyeing amendments that could delay passage of legislation to implement measures in the government's fall economic statement.

The $20.8 billion in new spending over five years includes initiatives to boost the housing supply through rental units and affordable homes.

The current sitting of Parliament is expected to end Dec. 15 before MPs take a six-week break as they spend time in their ridings over the holidays.

The Tories contend that if they succeed in stalling the Liberals' agenda, the sitting will need to be extended.

Said Poilievre, addressing Trudeau: "You will have no rest until the tax is gone."

But for that to happen, the Tories would need unanimous consent of the House, including support from the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Québécois.

If the government was of the view it needed to sit longer, it would have to write to the Speaker of the House and explain its reasoning for an extension. It would then be up to the Speaker to allow it or not.

The government has not indicated it would do that.

Following Poilievre's speech, Trudeau said he plans on enjoying Christmas this year with his family.

"Mr. Poilievre can play whatever parliamentary games he wants. We're here to work. We're here to deliver for seniors. We're here to deliver for young people. We're here to deliver on housing, on affordability, on measures to support Ukraine," Trudeau said before heading into the House.

"He can make us work late. We're happy to do it because we're doing important things for Canadians while he's pulling stunts."

Government House leader Karina Gould called the Conservative plan "completely irresponsible and reckless dilatory tactics."

Affordability challenges are not a result of the price on pollution, but rather inflation that's linked to global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, she said.

"And so, once again, (Poilievre's) looking for clickbait," she said. "He's looking for slogans, but those aren’t solutions for Canadians."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2023.

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press