Northern Canada wants to cancel the carbon tax amid rising energy costs

On Sunday, Northwest Territories Premier R.J. Simpson told the CBC that the carbon tax simply 'doesn't work' for his territory. Regarding the use of heat pumps instead of fossil fuels, he said that they don't work during the long, frigid winters in northern Canada.

Northern Canada wants to cancel the carbon tax amid rising energy costs
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey and Facebook/GNWT Cabinet Communications - 20th Legislative Assembly
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The Northwest Territories (N.W.T.) wants to cancel the carbon tax program, citing ludicrous energy costs and a worsening cost of living crisis to the north.

"I mean, ideally, a complete exemption for the territory is what we would hope for," Premier R.J. Simpson told the CBC on December 10.

"The costs are already high — higher costs are not the solution up here," he added, noting residents cannot afford their bills, let alone the cost of reducing emissions.

In March, then-Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson said his constituents could no longer afford their rising energy costs, courtesy of the carbon tax.

"People in Nunakput can barely live, put food on the table, find employment and earn income to pay for the heat, the power, and the housing,” he remarked. “How can we tax people who have nothing to give?" 

In October, the MLA said these costs continue to skyrocket, making life harder for taxpayers not only in the territory, but all across the country.

The federal government announced a three-year tax freeze for oil used to heat residential buildings, as well as the doubling of the rural reprieve that month. They also expanded low-income grants for installing electric heat pumps in the Maritimes.

"[If] high costs are what is going to get people to use green energy and green technology, we would have been doing that years ago," added Simpson.

On the use of heat pumps in place of fossil fuels, he said they don't work during the long, frigid winters in northern Canada.

"They're being reactive to stuff, not proactive," Jacobson told the CBC. "And as the government of Canada, they have to represent all of Canada. Not just the Atlantic [provinces], not just the N.W.T., not just Yukon. It's everybody."

With the electricity costs skyrocketing in the region, it's unclear if heat pumps would actually reduce emissions, reported the state broadcaster.

Typically, the N.W.T. relies on hydroelectricity and diesel generators to power its grid. However, low water levels caused a huge surge in diesel consumption this year.

Simpson also blamed the lack of northern energy infrastructure for the rising costs, claiming a better connection to southern power grids would mitigate power bills. 

"The fact is, we need major infrastructure upgrades, and we can't afford those ourselves, as a territory," he said. "It's just not sustainable."

Following last month’s election, Simpson told the state broadcaster on Sunday that the carbon tax simply "doesn't work" for his territory.

With the N.W.T. operating its own carbon tax — separate from the federal backstop — the territory must fend for itself on exempting home heating oils from the levy.

On March 29, they ceased rebates for heating fuels in a 9-8 vote that passed the Act to Amend the Petroleum Products and Carbon Tax Act. Those opposed to the bill slammed it for punishing fossil fuel consumption when energy alternatives are not readily available for northerners.

"Our winter roads are becoming less reliable, our climate is changing, and we are being charged this tax as if it is our fault,” said then-MLA Jane Weyallon Armstrong.

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