Holland calls criticism of road trip remarks ‘disingenuous’ – National

Health Minister Mark Holland says “of course” he supports Canadians going on road trips after a video of comments he made during question period about the topic gained wide attention over the weekend.

Conservative MPs were among social media users sharing a video of Holland in the House of Commons saying road trips involve being “in a car for 10 consecutive days, non-stop, with no bathroom breaks” and all it costs is “the future of the planet”.

Holland told reporters that is out of context.

“I think that’s disingenuous. And I think selectively quoting me when they could see the context of question period, and what we were talking about, shows frankly, desperation in their message, and a willingness to be on social media to contort messages,” Holland said Monday.

So, what is the full context of the clip?

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Last Thursday, Conservative MPs were calling on the government to adopt their motion to remove the carbon price, federal fuel tax and GST on gasoline and diesel from now until Labour Day.

MPs voted on this motion Monday and it was ultimately defeated with the Conservatives being the lone party to vote in favour.

Click to play video: 'Conservatives demand Liberals cut carbon pricing for Canadians to afford summer road trips'

Conservatives demand Liberals cut carbon pricing for Canadians to afford summer road trips

During that May 30 debate, Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer argued this would save an average Ontario family $600 over the summer.

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“Everybody knows that the carbon tax costs more than the rebate. That is why the Prime Minister was humiliated into granting a carve-out for just some people in some parts of the country. That is all we are asking for today: a carve-out on federal taxes on fuel and diesel for the summer,” Andrew Scheer said in question period last Thursday.

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“For the average family in Ontario, that would mean almost $600 in savings. To the prime minister’s wealthy friends, that might not seem like a lot of money, but to struggling Canadians, that can make the difference of being able to say yes to kids when they ask for some summertime fun.”

Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault initially responded, saying that to get that level of savings it would mean driving 37,000 kilometres of consecutive driving, 10 days at 100 kilometres per hour.

Click to play video: 'Gas tax getaway? Poilievre pushes Trudeau to give Canadians ‘summer break’ from fuel taxes'

Gas tax getaway? Poilievre pushes Trudeau to give Canadians ‘summer break’ from fuel taxes

Holland then entered the debate after Scheer repeated the question. The part of Holland’s response drawing attention on social media came after Alberta Conservative MP Rachel Thomas asked a question similar to Scheer’s.

“Mr. Speaker, there is good news for kids. They can take a summer fun-time vacation where they are locked in a car for 10 consecutive days non-stop, with no bathroom breaks, and the Conservatives have a plan for them to have that summertime fun. What is the cost? It is to give up the future of the planet,” Holland said Thursday. “Kids do not have to worry about climate change. They do not have to worry about taking action on the planet. They can enjoy their 10 hours in the car and let the planet burn.”

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It’s not uncommon for politicians of all stripes to take clips of their opponents from question period and post them on social media. When asked if he’d steer away from hyperbole in this environment, Holland said it got conversations going.

“I had a great conversation with all kinds of people all across, the GTA in my riding, and lots of people came up to me and were talking about it, and it creates a good conversation. And here’s the thing with truth, it’s true,” Holland said.

“If you’re going to reduce a discussion on the existential crisis of climate change, down to a slogan around a ridiculous policy that you’d have to drive 44,000 kilometres in order to realize the benefit, and try to reduce it to a 30-second clip on Instagram, that shows you the level of seriousness with which they’re taking the issue.”

Prior to Monday’s vote, Conservative MPs, including Leader Pierre Poilievre, criticized Holland’s comments in debate last week. In response, Holland and Guilbeault both criticized the Conservatives saying they have no climate plan and are not taking the issue seriously.

Poilievre has not shared a full plan for climate change policy should his party form the government, but he has said he would repeal the carbon price and focus on putting more money into technology aimed at curbing emissions.

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