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Liberals soften carbon tax policy for truckers, farmers

WINNIPEG -- As expected, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion will massage his controversial national carbon tax plan to ease the burden for truckers, farmers, and the fishing industry.

Winnipeg media reported last week that several MPs were urging Dion to soften his stance on the so-called Green Shift plan. And according to CBC News, Dion is expected to announce several changes today at a Liberal caucus meeting in Winnipeg.

Farmers and truckers are expected to see subsidies and grants for newer, low-emissions equipment that reduces diesel consumption, CBC reports.

Farmers will learn today what the new package includes, but specifics for trucking and fishing will be announced at a later date -- likely closer to an election.

The possible tax rebates and subsidies could cost close to $1 billion out of $15-billion the Liberals expect to collect over four years if elected.

enviroTruck might be the tradeoff
truckers get for paying more tax at the pump.

 Dion previously refused to soften his policy, saying that the additional levy on diesel would have a minimal impact on truckers. But now, according to the report, he said he is adjusting his plan because he "has listened to the concerns of Canadians."

The Tories have spent weeks blasting the proposal. Upon hearing that adjustments are coming, Conservative MP Jason Kenney quipped: "It confirms they are making this policy up on the back of a cocktail napkin."

It's not known for sure, but the new carbon tax plan could include incentives for newer, smog-free trucks and other add-on components -- something that the Canadian Trucking Alliance has spent years lobbying for.

The trucking group has been urging Ottawa and provincial governments to greenlight its enviroTruck initiative -- a program that makes it easier for fleets to purchase modern heavy trucks spec'd with aerodynamic, auxiliary power and other fuel economizing equipment such as wide-base tires. The CTA also wants to harmonize the federal excise tax on diesel fuel with the GS.

Last week, the Financial Post reported that some top officials among the governing Tories have discussed the possibility of scrapping the excise tax.

The proposal, however, is reportedly facing headwinds from the Department of Finance, which is reluctant to give up the cash for its coffers.


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