A Nova Scotia Member of Parliament is calling on the federal government to lower fuel taxes for fishers as the province grapples with record-high gasoline prices and significant fluctuations in the price of diesel, which dropped by 50 cents per litre over the past four days.
The push is coming from South Shore—St. Margaret’s MP Rick Perkins, who serves as the Conservatives' Shadow Minister for Fisheries and the Coast Guard.
In an interview with CityNews Halifax, Perkins noted that fishers make up Nova Scotia's top industry.
"Some [fishers] who go a little more offshore—50 miles—have gone up to almost $2,000 a day," Perkins said. "It's a logical thing to look at the fuel costs of all those who produce our food and generate our food for us to find a way to make sure we can continue to have those supplies strong."
Because of high fuel prices, Perkins says lobster fishers have reduced their runs to every second day. The situation is even more severe for fishers of halibut and swordfish, who Perkins says may not be able to afford to go out at all due to sky-high fuel costs. There are also concerns about lobster fishers having enough bait for next year’s season.
"If there's no local bait, they're going to have to try and import bait," Perkins said, noting bait costs have doubled. "If the price of the product you're bringing in doesn't cover your costs, nobody can withstand that, so they'll just stop fishing."
Coupled with fuel prices is what Perkins calls a considerable drop in the price of lobster, leaving fishers struggling to break a profit. He pointed to a private member’s bill in the House of Commons that would remove carbon taxes on the heating of farms, barns, and the agri-food industry. Just one problem: Nova Scotia does not have a carbon tax.
Removing a carbon tax on agriculture industries would have little to no impact on Nova Scotia-based fisheries and farms, a sector that makes up 10 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Perkins noted that more than 40 per cent of grain production has been suspended due to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, something he says will cause even more stress on the agriculture industry.
“It's a logical thing to look at the fuel costs of all those who produce our food and generate our food for us to find a way to make sure we can continue to have those supplies strong,” Perkins said of Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, sponsored by Huron–Bruce MP Ben Lobb.
Asked about whether the governing party would support the bill, Perkins noted that the Liberals voted against Bill C-234, while the Bloc and the NDP voted with the Conservatives.
In the same breath, Perkins described the Liberal–NDP Supply and Confidence Agreement as an “unholy alliance,” accusing the Liberals of being happy about the same higher fuel and food prices that are impacting their constituents. Perkins continued spreading disinformation by saying the Trudeau government “have bragged about…mak[ing] sure it becomes more expensive for everyone to do everything.”