Like The Hub?
Join our community.

Five Tweets that reflect the problem with the prime minister’s carbon tax reversal


TORONTO — On October 27, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the government would, among other things, implement a three-year pause to the federal carbon tax on heating oil in all jurisdictions where the federal fuel charge is in effect.

The announcement has generated a lot of policy and political debate because its been characterized as political special treatment for Atlantic Canadians where home heating oil is disproportionately used and a long-run threat to the carbon tax’s viability since it will invariably lead to similar demands for exemptions. The following five tweets from leading policy experts and politicians reflect the these different perspectives.

Blake Shaffer, an associate professor in the department of economics at the University of Calgary, described this as a “cynical political move” to protect the Liberal Party’s support in Atlantic Canada where polls indicate the prime minister and his party have strong disapproval ratings.

Over the weekend, federal Minister for Rural Economic Development Gudie Hutchings told CTV Question Period that other Canadians—particularly in Western Canada—may have more success securing a similar exemption on their heating costs if they had Liberal members of Parliament.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith criticized the federal government’s decision as unfair to Albertans and Saskatchewanians who will not benefit from the exemption on their natural gas heating.

Pierre Poilievre, leader of the federal Conservative Party, similarly criticized the asymmetric treatment of the government’s exemption and called on the prime minister to extend to it to natural gas, propane, and other heating.

Trevor Tombe, professor of economics at the University of Calgary and Hub contributor, described the growing demands for exemptions similar to the one announced by Ottawa as evidence that “the carbon tax is now effectively dead.”

At this point, the federal government has indicated that it will not consider other exemptions for the carbon tax. It is too early to judge whether that position will be sustainable in light of the challenges set out by Shaffer, Tombe, and others.

If you enjoy Hub podcasts (including bi-weekly episodes with David Frum and Amanda Lang), be sure to check out more insightful commentary on The Hub’s YouTube page:

Canada better off with NASA than going it alone in space, top Canadian astronaut says


Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen is heading to the moon as part of a NASA-led mission and believes Canada is better off collaborating with NASA than going it alone. When asked about the potential for Canada to have its own Moon landing missions, he encouraged the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to remain a key partner of NASA rather than to develop its own moon missions.

Colonel Jeremy Hansen will be the first Canadian to go on a mission around the Moon as the only non-American on the NASA-led Artemis II mission, which will be the first crewed mission to the Moon since the Apollo missions in 1972. The 10-day-long Artemis II expedition, projected to launch in November 2024, involves launching the state-of-the-art Orion shuttle into deep space, hopefully leading to a lap around Earth and the Moon and maybe even a space walk. 

During an interview with The Hub after a presentation at the Ontario Science Centre last week, Hansen said that Canada’s potential in space “is enormous.” He explained that NASA’s leadership allows countries like Canada to shine, utilizing its technical prowess and extraordinary levels of “genius” in many space-related fields to make giant leaps for humanity. 

Hansen emphasized the importance of meaningful collaboration between Canada’s CSA and the United States’ NASA, comparing the benefits of international cooperation on climate science to the challenge of space exploration. Hansen said, “If everybody is trying to solve [climate change] with their own systems and replicate to have their own data, this is not as powerful as everybody contributing to a common system that we all have a stake in and that we all believe in.”

Hansen pointed out that a large number of technological advancements that have enabled the Artemis II mission have resulted from Canadian innovation. He pointed out that Canada is a “world leader in space technology development,” such as the revolutionary Canadarm. A new iteration of Canada’s robotic space arm will be used on the Artemis II mission as Canada’s contribution to the international partnership with NASA.

Given Canada’s high level of space-related expertise, Hansen feels strongly that Canada’s future in space lies in the possibility of increased space technology commercialization. Hansen said that space technology development “is one area where we’ve made some ground in Canada, but we’re behind with respect to really enabling the commercialization of our technologies and making sure those industries and the jobs of the future do stay in Canada.” He affirmed that once Canadians feel that their ideas can “be supported,” and they “can make serious contributions to the world,” Canada will be at the forefront of space commercialization and beyond.

Hansen said that it is doubtful that any Canadian will be on more than one or two of the future Artemis missions. These Artemis missions will aim to result in lunar landings. These missions will, if successful, be reminiscent of the 1961 moon landing when Neil Armstrong and his crew put their boots on the Moon’s surface, which, Hansen commented, is still an incredible feat even when considering the remarkable technological advancements that have been made since then.

The Artemis II is the first step of many that lead to a deeper understanding of the solar system than ever before. NASA plans to deploy lunar landers and rovers, build a space station near the Moon called the Lunar Gateway, and, eventually, use the Moon as a launchpad to go to Mars. It is increasingly likely that Canadians will play a pivotal role in the success of these missions, goals, and operations through the country’s world-class space innovation industry.