A motion concerning the carbon tax was brought to a vote in Parliament on Nov. 6.
This proposal, initiated by Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, suggested expanding the suspension of the carbon tax to include all home heating methods. The motion did not pass.
Conservative Member of Parliament Bob Zimmer and Jackie Jacobson, former MLA for Nunakput, voiced their concerns about the carbon tax in Yellowknife earlier this week — and they did it while standing in front of Liberal MP Michael McLeod’s constituency office.
“All Liberal members were forced to vote with Justin Trudeau against (Poilievre’s) motion,” said Zimmer. “We were hoping some of the rural Liberal members of parliament would vote for the motion, but sadly, they didn’t because they were forced. What that does is basically support a carbon tax for the North.”
Jacobson said he has witnessed firsthand the impacts of the carbon tax on Northern home heating, food costs and fuel prices. He expressed concern about the financial strain the tax has placed on Northern families, stating that related government rebates are insufficient to cover the increased cost of living.
The carbon tax program in the NWT is not a federal program. However, Zimmer pointed out that Trudeau forced the territory’s legislative assembly to implement the tax. The assembly chose to manage the tax themselves in order to rebate their citizens and mitigate some of the impacts.
But in April, Zimmer said, the federal government told the NWT that rebates couldn’t be given out under the then-model.
“Here we have another Ottawa-knows-best plan again,” he said. “It really shows a lack of understanding of Northerners and the impacts of it.”
However, the implementation of the tax has not gone as planned.
“Last year, when the bill went through, there’s supposed to be a tiered system in the territory,” said Jacobson. “There’s no tiered system, so that we failed right off the hop.”
The impacts of the tax have been felt by trucking companies and food companies, who he says are being blamed for the federal government’s decisions. Northerners face markups ranging from 150 per cent to 400 per cent on items like eggs and milk due to shipping costs, according to Jacobson.
Zimmer, a B.C. MP for the riding of Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, quoted a recent article which indicated that the carbon tax hike poses a major threat to territorial businesses. Shane Thompson, then-minister, expressed that the territory cannot afford to pay for the federal government’s promises. Despite these concerns, the Government of Canada has refused to exempt the NWT from the federal carbon tax program.
Zimmer also spoke about the need for mineral exploration and getting critical minerals to market. He mentioned that the only active rare earth mine in Canada had gone bankrupt, and the company behind the effort had to seek sources of funding to keep the operation going. He blamed this on the existing regulatory regime.
The MP emphasized the need for more practical solutions such as forest management, water management and technological advancements.
Zimmer said if the Conservatives form the next federal government, getting rid of the carbon tax — ‘Axe the Tax’, as has been the line — will be one of the first things that would happen.
“That’s an easy one,” he said. “That would eliminate the fuel surcharge to transport goods to places such as Tuktoyaktuk and elsewhere in the Arctic. If you look at Yukon, there’s a 92 cent surcharge on getting food from Edmonton to Dawson City. Getting rid of that alone would bring costs down dramatically.”
-with files from James McCarthy