The minority Progressive Conservative government still plans to deliver on its promise to allow marked fuel to be used in all farm vehicles, maintains Finance Minister Darlene Compton.
Currently, marked fuel can only be used on vehicles that are predominately intended for off-highway use. The matter was one of the major bones of contention among the parties during the agriculture debate held in the lead-up to the April 23 election. The Progressive Conservatives made it a campaign pledge while both the Green and Liberal parties expressed reservations about the move.
O'Leary-Inverness MLA Robert Henderson questioned two cabinet ministers on the issue recently in the legislature, asking when the commitment was going to be implemented. Agriculture and Land Minister Bloyce Thompson replied "our government is committed to expanding the marked diesel for all vehicles and we’re going to do it soon. We’re consulting with the finance department now and seeing when we can do it and there’s legislation of course that has to be changed, and we’re working on it as we speak."
Henderson, who was agriculture and fisheries minister in the previous Liberal government, argued other provinces have already implemented fuel taxes exemptions beyond what is available to Island farmers, maintaining "This does not have to be studied; it does not have to be researched for such an exemption to be implemented. "
The Liberal MLA also argued no further legislation was needed saying " It can be implemented by the stroke of a pen, an allocation in the PEI budget, and members of this caucus would certainly support you, so the issues of minority don’t seem to be any particular issue in this."
When he asked again when the promise would be implemented, Compton rose to her feet saying her department is currently working on the legislative changes required to implement the measure. Henderson noted that in provinces when the carbon tax is implemented by the federal government, producers can apply for a rebate, .537 cents per litre, including for on-road vehicles. Prince Edward Island has entered into an agreement with the federal government so Island farmers are not eligible for the rebate.
" The province does collect a one cent carbon levy from farmers which contributes to provincial revenues as stated in the budget ," Henderson said. "Minister, how do PEI farmers with on-road vehicles get the one cent carbon levy back given you have not expanded the marked fuel exemption?"
Compton replied the agreement with Ottawa was reached by the previous government. She said the current administration is willing to work together to put the needed legislation in place. The finance minister continued "If there’s probable cause, that we can actually dip tanks and ensure the regulations are being followed, we want to be as carbon neutral as we possibly can and we are going to ensure that compliance is there, we want to make sure the legislation is there before we implement it. "