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‘Moments of frustration’: Eby says feds have not ‘shown up’ yet in B.C.

Rebate on heating oil for some Canadians but not British Columbians latest source of irritation
Premier David Eby (Monday) questioned the federal government’s decision to exclude British Columbia from energy rebates and incentives in acknowledging that Ottawa hasn’t ‘shown up in B.C.’ yet in the way that he would hope. But he also held out hope that relations would improve. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

Premier David Eby expressed disappointment with the current state of relations between B.C. and federal government, but expects it will improve.

“I’ll certainly acknowledge that, that the federal government hasn’t shown up in B.C. yet in the way that I would hope that they would,” Eby said Monday (Oct. 30) during an unrelated event at the legislature.

He made this comment when asked about the overall state of relations with Ottawa after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday announced rebates for Canadians using heating oil — the latest source of B.C. irritation with Ottawa.

This measure will largely benefit Atlantic Canada, where heating oil is a far more common energy source for homes than elsewhere. Residents in B.C. using heating oil won’t receive these rebates because B.C. has its own carbon tax. The federal government also announced incentives for heat pumps that will first roll out in the four Atlantic provinces.

The federal changes surprised B.C. and revived memories of the 1970s when the federal Liberal government under Trudeau’s father Pierre Elliott had passed a series of energy-related measures. Many considered them discriminatory toward energy-rich western Canada while favouring energy-poor but Liberal-friendly eastern and Atlantic Canada.

The parallel was not lost on Eby.

“The more things change…there was also an NDP premier named Dave (Barrett) at that time,” Eby said.

While British Columbians support B.C.’s carbon tax, government has expanded various credit and rebate programs for low-income people to help them switch toward cleaner sources of energy, Eby said.

RELATED: Left-out B.C. to put the heat on Ottawa over heating oil rebates

“There are different ways that we can maintain our high standards around carbon pollution, but also support people with affordability (issues) and that’s where our government is focused,” he said. (That’s) where, frankly, I think the federal government should be focused as well. I was disappointed by the direction that really focused on protecting a particular type of heating, rather than protecting people, which is where they should be focused.”

He also questioned the preferential treatment of Atlantic Canada when it comes to the incentives for heat pumps.

“I think at a minimum, fairness demands equal treatment of British Columbians,” he said. “People struggling with affordability around home heating face the same struggles in B.C. as in Nova Scotia, it’s not a distinct or different struggle.”

Ottawa needs to work with B.C., Eby added. “We’ve been, frankly, lobbying them for months to get this kind of recognition,”: he said. “So my expectation is that they will meet us in delivering that program for British Columbians just like they do Nova Scotians.”

Thursday’s federal announcement is only the latest irritation in relations between Ottawa and B.C. Provincial officials starting with Eby have also asked the federal government for support on housing, transportation infrastructure and criminal justice. While the House of Commons has passed bail reform legislation after months of delay, the legislation remains stuck in the federal Senate.

Echoing a long line of New Democrats, Eby questioned the Senate’s obstruction.

“I’ve never been more sympathetic to the federal NDP’s suggestion that the Senate be abolished,” Eby said. “How absolutely out of touch must Senators be to not understand the grievous and serious public safety issues of releasing someone who has committed multiple violent offenses back into community?

“Indigenous people, in particular, are the most likely to be the victim of a violent offense and the unwillingness of these Senators to open their eyes and their ears to the calls from across the country to fix this quickly, is profoundly disappointing to me and frankly, disturbing.”

But Eby also offered Ottawa an olive branch.

“There are certainly moments of frustration,” he said. “I continue, because of individual and personal assurances by senior ministers in the federal government, to believe that they will turn a corner with us,” he said. “I just hope it’s sooner than later.”


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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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