Conservatives call on Trudeau to cut the carbon tax, in front of Charlottetown MP's office

The federal Conservatives took their fight over the Liberal government's carbon tax to the doorstep of a Charlottetown MP on Tuesday.

New Brunswick MP appears at Sean Casey's headquarters ahead of April 1 tax hike

Miramichi-Grand Lake Conservative MP Jake Stewart
Miramichi-Grand Lake Conservative MP Jake Stewart held a media availability outside of Charlottetown Liberal MP Sean Casey's office on Tuesday. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

Conservatives took their fight over the federal government's carbon tax directly to the front steps of a Charlottetown MP's office Tuesday.

About 20 people gathered in front of Liberal member of Parliament Sean Casey's office, led by New Brunswick Conservative MP Jake Stewart. 

The group called for the Liberal government to "axe the tax," and stand down on its plans to increase the levy on Monday, April 1. 

Stewart, the MP for Miramichi-Grand Lake, said he's heard concerns from Islanders during meetings with farmers and business leaders on P.E.I.

Aidan Mousavin, left, talks with Miramichi-Grand Lake Conservative MP Jake Stewart
Aidan Mousavin, left, speaks with Miramichi-Grand Lake Conservative MP Jake Stewart. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

"People care about the environment. But this is a tax. It's a tax, on a tax, on a tax," he said.

"It's hitting the farmer who grows the food, the trucker who trucks it. The consumer who purchases it. It hits the single mother buying groceries. It hits the seniors buying groceries. And it hits everybody buying groceries."

The federal government introduced its carbon levy in P.E.I. in 2022. At the time, plans the province submitted to put a price on carbon fell short of what Ottawa had set as its minimum benchmark for reduced emissions.

The carbon tax hike on April 1 would add 3.5 cents per litre to the cost of regular gasoline, and four cents a litre to the cost of diesel.

With the increase, the overall carbon tax applied to fuel on P.E.I. would total 23 cents per litre for gas, and 26.6 cents per litre for diesel.

Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has said, rather than raising the costs of "traditional energy," his party plans to create incentives for companies to lower the costs of low-carbon energy alternatives, such as nuclear power, carbon capture and tidal power.

Casey, ironically, was in New Brunswick while the Miramichi-Grand Lake MP was in front of his office. The Charlottetown MP told CBC News voters are more concerned about the health-care system than they are the carbon tax. 

Candidate for Speaker and member of Parliament Sean Casey delivers a speech in the House of Commons prior to voting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.
Liberal MP Sean Casey says he gets no sense that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is backing down on the plan to increase the carbon tax on April 1. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

"I really wish that the tactics that were being employed [by the Conservatives] weren't preying on people's fears," Casey said.

"The fact is, we're in difficult economic times. People have a lot of concern over that and Mr. Poilievre and his caucus have seized upon those fears and amped them up by using misinformation and disinformation to link the economic woes to the price on pollution." 

Casey said the carbon tax is responsible for about 15 cents on a $100 bag of groceries, so the tax is not the reason for the record-high inflation rate. 

The MP said he gets no sense the Trudeau Liberals are backing down on their plan to increase the tax on April 1. 

King not asking to kill the tax

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King recently went as far as writing to the prime minister, asking Trudeau to put a pause on next month's increase.

During an interview Tuesday, CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin told King about the "axe the tax" rally. And King said he doesn't want to see the tax eliminated, he wants the federal government to consider the burden it's putting on Islanders.

"We haven't said 'axe the tax.' We haven't said 'kill the tax.' What we've said is, 'can we hold on here this year, just as the cost of living is seen to be … flattening, at least we hope,'" the premier said.

"It would serve Islanders best going forward April 1 not to see an increase in the cost of gas and diesel.

As of today, I don't think the federal government agrees with me, but I'll continue to put the case of Islanders first ... in hopes that we can find some alignment." 

In November 2023, the federal government offered households relief on the cost of home heating oil at the request of Atlantic provinces' premiers, granting a three-year exemption from the tax. 

But Tuesday, Trudeau responded to the premiers, including King, who called for a pause on the April 1 increase.

In his letter, the prime minister suggested that the governments of P.E.I., New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador haven't put forward suitable replacements to the federal backstop. And he said it's incorrect to say the fee will hurt most Canadians.

"The Parliamentary Budget Officer again confirmed that by returning the proceeds through the Canada Carbon Rebate, eight out of 10 families get more money back than they pay – with low- and middle-income households benefitting the most," Trudeau's letter said.

'We're the ones affected the most'

On the streets of Charlottetown, views on the tax were mixed.

"I don't think it's right that poorer people should have to pay for it. And so I would be more inclined to tax big industry, the wealthy, that kind of thing," said Matt Voroney, from Stratford. 

"I think the long-term vision makes sense, but it hurts, and it hurts me," said Chance Skauge of Oyster Bed. "It's no easier to pay my bills than before all this happened, but it's certainly getting harder." 

A man in a a light coat and sunglasses answers a question on a downtown Charlottetown street corner.
Chance Skauge of Oyster Bed says the carbon tax is making it even harder for him to pay his bills. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

"Really, we're the ones being affected the most," said UPEI student Jake MacCallum. "For example, [I don't have] a lot of hope when looking towards the future, buying a home and starting a family." 

While Stewart and the Conservatives say they'd axe the carbon tax, what the party would do to combat climate change remains unclear.

Stewart says the party's platform isn't fully developed, but Canadians will get a clearer picture of its plan before the next federal election.


Stephen Brun


Stephen Brun works for CBC in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Through the years he has been a writer and editor for a number of newspapers and news sites across Canada, most recently in the Atlantic region. You can reach him at

With files from Wayne Thibodeau