Yukon gov't claims success in fighting carbon tax, but opposition scoffs

Days before an expected election call, the Yukon government is claiming some success in its fight against a carbon tax, but the opposition isn't buying it.

Minister Currie Dixon says he convinced the provinces 'the North is different'

'This was, I believe, a success,' said Currie Dixon, Yukon's minister of community services, about the environment ministers' recommendation of 'a range of different policy options for reducing emissions' in the North. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

The Yukon government is trumpeting its success at this week's meeting of Canada's environment ministers, saying it secured a unanimous recommendation to exempt the North from a carbon tax.

But Yukon's opposition parties say the government is just clouding the issue, and unjustly claiming a victory before calling an election.

Community Services Minister Currie Dixon attended the ministers' meeting in Montreal on Monday, on behalf of Environment Minister Wade Istchenko. He says he convinced the other ministers that the North's higher cost of living means the territories can't afford a new tax.

"The North is different, and we ought to have something different in place," Dixon said.

Dixon says he convinced Canada's ministers that the North's higher cost of living means the territories can't afford a carbon tax. (The Associated Press)

The environment ministers' recommendation says "a range of different policy options for reducing emissions must be available for the territories."

Dixon says the recommendation is just a first step — the next will come after the Yukon election, at a meeting of Canada's premiers where "this is all hashed out".

"That's why it's critically important that whoever we send to that meeting, stands up for Yukon and opposes carbon pricing in the territories," Dixon said.

The government is expected to call an election within the next few days.

Opposition scoffs at government's 'success'

Meanwhile, Yukon's opposition parties want to know how the governing Yukon Party's line is different from what they've been asking for, and how the government can claim "success" this week.

"The Yukon Party has been saying the whole time that they're saying 'no' to a carbon price," said Liberal leader Sandy Silver.

"Is the minister now saying, 'well, okay, we will have a carbon price and we'll make sure that the money goes back to Yukoners'? Because basically, that's what we've been saying from the get-go." 

NDP leader Liz Hanson took a shot at both the Yukon Party and the Liberals. She accused the Liberals of "flip-flopping" on a carbon tax, and chastised the Yukon Party for lobbying against carbon pricing.

Hanson argues her party is the only one "willing to take meaningful action to fight climate change."

Yukon Green Party leader Frank de Jong says the federal government's proposed carbon pricing scheme is too timid. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Yukon Green Party leader, Frank de Jong, might take exception to the NDP's claim of moral superiority: de Jong thinks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed starting tax of $10 per tonne of carbon is too timid. 

"The Yukon Green Party would set a fee of $30 per tonne of CO2 in 2017 (0.07 cents per litre of gas), raising it by $10 per tonne annually until it reached $100 per tonne," de Jong said in a statement.

But like the Liberals and the NDP, de Jong said any carbon levy needs to be "made in Yukon, so we can choose what happens to the revenue."