N.W.T. not following other provinces in carbon tax fight with Ottawa

Recently, premiers in Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba have joined Saskatchewan in rejecting carbon tax as part of their climate change plans, but the Northwest Territories won't be joining in.

Territory doesn't want to risk having a plan imposed by Ottawa next July, says Finance Minister

N.W.T. Finance Minister Robert C. McLeod (left) says the territory will not join Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario in defying the federal government's plans for carbon pricing. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

The Northwest Territories won't be following a number of southern provinces defying the federal government's plans for carbon pricing across Canada.

Recently, premiers in Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba have joined Saskatchewan in rejecting a carbon tax as part of their climate change plans. 

But the Northwest Territories doesn't want to risk the federal government imposing its own tax and is sitting this fight out, Finance Minister Robert C. McLeod said Friday in the Legislative Assembly.

"The federal government is implementing this [carbon tax] no matter what, regardless of what the other jurisdictions are doing," McLeod said, in response to questions from Yellowknife North MLA Cory Vanthuyne.

Vanthuyne noted the territorial government initially opposed a carbon tax and wanted to know why it continues to move forward with implementing it, especially when the plan proposes rebating the money back to residents.

"Really, it's just a flat out rebate, it is not going to be a tax, it's not going to have any impact on changing people's behaviour," Vanthuyne said in an in interview.

"What's the point … if at the end of the day it's not going to do what it's intended to do, which is mitigating the actions of climate change," he said. 

Fight climate change without new tax, says MLA

Northerners can deal with climate change without a carbon tax, Vanthuyne said, citing examples with the Arctic Energy Alliance and other clean-energy projects, including solar power generation in Colville Lake, N.W.T.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was in Yellowknife on Oct.11 to announce Ottawa is spending $23 million over the next four years on projects just like the ones Vanthuyne cited. 

McLeod argues the federal government won't be as willing to spend the money to pay for those programs if the territory doesn't get on board with a carbon tax.

Though the memorandum of understanding on the tax between the Northwest Territories and the federal government hasn't been finalized yet, McLeod says there are no plans to scrap the plan he says is "made in the North." 

"We didn't agree to this [carbon tax]," McLeod said. "But we've come up with a plan, it's not perfect, [but] it addresses a lot of the concerns that people brought forward."


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