MLA introduces bill to repeal N.W.T. carbon tax

Kieron Testart, MLA for Range Lake, says it’s not clear why the N.W.T. has its own carbon tax system in the first place when the territory’s legislation mirrors the federal one. (Julie Plourde/Radio-Canada)

If passed, bill will bring N.W.T. in line with federal carbon tax system

The already heavily-debated carbon tax will again be discussed in the N.W.T. legislature as some MLAs seek to repeal the territory’s “made in the North” legislation in favour of the federal backstop.

Kieron Testart, MLA for Range Lake, introduced a bill Tuesday to repeal the territory’s Petroleum Products and Carbon Tax Act.

“My bill will put the responsibility back to Ottawa, it will be their tax and the N.W.T. government will determine how it’s spent,” he told CBC News after first reading of the bill in the Legislative Assembly.

The N.W.T. is one of three jurisdictions with its own carbon tax legislation. But while Quebec and British Columbia each have unique features to their legislation — cap and trade and province-specific credits — Testart says that the territory’s carbon tax act just mirrors the federal legislation.

He says adopting the federal backstop means that any changes coming from Ottawa affect the territory immediately rather than taking months to make their way through the N.W.T. legislature, such as the exemption on diesel for home heating.

‘Getting ahead of the issue’

Testart argues that repealing the N.W.T.-specific legislation gets ahead of potential future changes if there were a new government after the next federal election. The federal Conservative Party has been pushing to “axe the tax.”

“If they scrap the legislation in Ottawa, we’ll still have it. And then we have to have that argument on the floor, ‘should we keep it? Should it go?’ — this gets rid of that. We get ahead of the issue,” Testart said.

Testart says the bill would not change the tiered cost-of-living offset (COLO) payments, which sees those in the territory’s northernmost communities getting more in offsets than southern communities.

When MLAs voted in favour of the N.W.T. carbon tax system it was marketed as a “made-in-the-North” option. The territory’s Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said at the time that passing the N.W.T. carbon tax would allow the territory more flexibility to adjust how the tax is applied — including continuing to adapt the law based on feedback from the public and regular MLAs.

Testart said he hopes to have second reading of the bill Wednesday and, if it passes, to bring the bill to committee to recommend improvements on the territory’s rebate system.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: N.W.T. announces carbon tax exemption on diesel for home heating, CBC News

Finland: Lapland among regions not in favour of wind power compensation for eastern Finland, Yle News

Iceland: Iceland’s wind power working group calls for input from public, municipalities, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Wind power to be expanded to all of Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska’s Northwest Arctic Borough gets $2 million tribal energy grant, Alaska Public Media

Natalie Pressman, CBC News

Natalie Pressman is a reporter with CBC North in Yellowknife. She can be reached at or on Twitter at @natpressman.

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