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With another increase taking effect on April 1, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under fire again over the carbon tax. To rally support, he needs to make a national address to Canadians. Here is what he should say.

Good afternoon. I want to talk to you today about the carbon tax.

As you know, the federal government has been charging an extra tax on gasoline, natural gas and other fossil fuels as part of this country’s contribution to the battle against global warming. I’m proud that Canada has taken this step. It is the right thing to do.

Lately, all sorts of misleading claims and simple falsehoods have been circulating about the cost and effect of the tax. I have chosen to speak to you in person today to tell you why you should reject this flood of misinformation.

I also want to make amends for our government’s failure to make the case for the tax. That failure is my responsibility and I apologize for it. We should have done better. Today I hope to explain why this measure is so important for our country and the planet.

I don’t have to tell you that the world is facing a grave climate threat. We have had a glimpse of what the future might look like right here in Canada, where we have been stricken by floods, wildfires and other extreme-weather events.

For a long while, Canadian governments did very little to combat this gathering crisis. Political leaders, including those of my own party, shrank from taking the decisive action that it demanded. The cost seemed high, the danger distant. We made earnest pledges to cut our greenhouse gas emissions and signed international agreements to keep our promises, yet always fell short, as many other countries did. We in government simply did not have the courage to tell voters what needed to be done.

The government I lead decided to break this cycle of over-promising and under-delivering. We decided to put a price on pollution. By gradually raising the cost of fuels through taxation, we would encourage households and industries to reduce their carbon footprint.

We did not pull this solution out of the air. British Columbia pioneered carbon pricing in Canada and it has been a solid success. The beauty of this idea is that it doesn’t depend on the heavy hand of government. It puts you, the citizens, in charge.

The rising tax on fuels gives Canadians a financial incentive to go green. Many of you are already cutting down on your energy use and making the switch to cleaner technologies like electric hot-water heaters, heat pumps and electric and hybrid cars. Businesses are retooling to becoming more efficient and less polluting. Step by step, Canada is making the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Pierre Poilievre and his Conservatives would turn back the clock and throw all of this progress out the window. His Axe the Tax campaign is politics at its cheapest.

He blames the carbon tax for driving up inflation, a claim that credible economists reject. He says the carbon tax takes money out of your pockets. That is pure nonsense.

As he well knows, Canadians get a government rebate to offset the cost of the tax. No less an authority than the parliamentary budget officer says that eight of 10 get more money back than the amount they pay. That is especially true for households with lower or middle incomes. Canadians who take steps to use less carbon, like taking public transit instead of a car when they can, stand to gain considerably.

Mr. Poilievre, a Conservative who purports to stand for a free-market economy where consumers exercise choice, should understand this. Instead, he would impose more rules and regulations to meet our climate goals – if in fact he would do anything at all.

I know that many of you are struggling these days. Inflation, a global phenomenon, has taken a toll, though thankfully we are getting it under control again. Groceries and rents are way up. Mr. Poilievre and the Conservative premiers allied with him would have you believe it is all the fault of the carbon tax. That’s not true and they know it.

In their hearts Canadians understand we need to get serious about the climate crisis. After years of empty talk and foot-dragging by governments, we at last have a plan in place. It’s a good plan, based not just on the carbon tax but on incentives, subsidies and conservation. Let’s stick with it. Let’s not get caught up in political bickering. Let’s see this through, together.

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