Farm groups urging Senate to avoid stalling on Bill C-234

The Senate chamber (photo by Paulo O, Flickr.com, CC-BY-2.0)

Farm groups are urging members of the Senate to avoid stalling on Bill C-234, with limited time left on the calendar before Parliament’s summer break.

The proposed legislation, which was approved by the House of Commons earlier this year, would remove the federal carbon tax from propane and natural gas used for grain drying, barn heating, and other activities on farms in provinces where the federal levy is applied.

The bill has been at the second reading stage in the Senate since early May. Under Senate rules, it can only be referred to the next stage — review by committee — after the senator assigned to serve as the bill’s critic has given a speech on it at second reading.

Farm groups, including members of the Agriculture Carbon Alliance, were hoping the bill’s critic, Senator Pierre Dalphond from Quebec, would speak to the bill this past Tuesday or Thursday, so it could be reviewed by the Senate ag committee during the week of June 12, but that did not happen.

“We are waiting for the senator from Quebec to speak to it. He was, I believe, scheduled to speak to it on Thursday, but for whatever reason, did not speak to it. So now we’re looking at next week, and it’s a very short timeline,” explains Keith Currie, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), in the interview below.

Dalphond, who was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Trudeau in 2018 and is a member of the Progressive Senate Group, will likely have another opportunity to speak to the bill on Tuesday, June 13.

“If it doesn’t get done (referred to the ag committee) by early to mid next week, there’s a good chance, a most likely chance that it will not happen before the summer break,” says Currie.

A group of Liberal-appointed senators have also pushed to have the bill referred to the Senate’s finance or environment committees, where it would be up against a legislative backlog, rather than the agriculture and forestry committee chaired by Senator Rob Black.

In the meantime, C-234 will also be competing for Senate attention and resources with the federal budget bill after it was approved by the House of Commons on Thursday.

The possibility that the government could prorogue Parliament in fall adds to the urgency of passing C-234, says Currie.

The CFA and other farm groups that are part of the Agriculture Carbon Alliance are asking farmers and ranchers to contact senators to urge them to move ahead on the bill in the coming days.

“We need our farmers to get out there and voice their opinion to their representatives in the Senate to let them know how important this is to agriculture and that we need to make this happen before it gets lost,” says Currie.

Listen to the interview below for an update on Bill C-234 with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s Keith Currie:

Related:

Black hopeful Senate will pass Bill C-234 in June

Bill C-234 heads to the Senate

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