“Where’s the funds?” That’s what federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre says Canadians need to ask about the April 1 increase in the national price on carbon under the Liberal government’s centrepiece policy to fight climate change.

Conservative supporters at a recent “Axe the Tax” rally at the Infinity Convention Centre in in the city’s south end were part of a series of Poilievre-led events across Canada pushing the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to scrap the measure.

The carbon price rose 23 per cent on April 1, having quadrupled since coming into effect in 2019. By 2030, it will rise to $170 a tonne.

Poilievre encouraged the crowd to seek answers about where the federal funds being raised through the measure are going.

About 2,000 people huddled around the perimeter of the room, a short distance from the small platform in the centre. There was a huge screen with a red countdown of the days until the carbon price increase came into effect about a week later.  

On the platform were Greg Kung, Conservative candidate for Kanata-Carleton, Barbara Bal, candidate for Nepean, alongside Poilievre and his wife Anaida.

“Canadians can’t afford his new cruel April Fools’ joke on hiking the carbon tax by 23 per cent,” Kung told the crowd.

Kanata-Carleton and Nepean — held by Liberals — are considered potential swing ridings in the next federal election, which, if the Tories have their way, will be fought in large part over federal carbon pricing policies.

While Conservatives blame the federal government for exacerbating the affordability crisis through the price on carbon, the Liberals say the measure is “revenue neutral” and say some 80 per cent of Canadians will earn a rebate four times a year that will put money in their pockets.

A government backgrounder on what it calls “carbon pollution pricing,” says the carbon charge is “widely recognized as the most efficient way to drive innovation and energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It gives households and businesses the flexibility to decide when and how to make changes to reduce emissions across the economy.”

Conservative supporters participated enthusiastically recently in party leader Pierre Poilievre’s rally in Gloucester against the recent carbon price increase. [Photo © Haven Caster]

Poilievre disagrees that the levy is “revenue neutral.” He has been rallying opposition around the policy for months by arguing that it’s hurting people’s pocketbooks and forces them to pinch their pennies.

During the rally, Poilievre also touched on rent prices, inflation, and crime and took a stab at Trudeau by saying, “Money is growing eight times faster than the stuff that money buys. … That is Justin-flation.”

Poilievre also says 70 per cent of Canadians and 70 per cent of premiers agree with “spiking the hike.”

The Conservatives did introduce a no-confidence motion over the carbon issue but the NDP and Bloc Québécois backed the Liberals, to defeat the motion.

But opponents aren’t backing down.

A protest took place at Parliament Hill on April 1 by those demanding that the government “axe the tax.” Protesters used chalk to write out messages on the sidewalks and streets in front of the Parliament Buildings.

Poilievre’s popularity appears to be strong as he prepares for next year’s election. In a recent Nanos survey, Conservatives held the highest support among voters across the country, about 40.6 per cent as of February.

“We’re going to bring home powerful paycheques to our people. Paycheques that preserve their purchasing power,” Poilievre said at the Ottawa rally.