National carbon tax down, but not out

Early this year year, the national roundtable on the environment and the economy released its advisory report on greenhouse gases.

Early this year year, the national roundtable on the environment and the economy released its advisory report on greenhouse gases.

It recommended Ottawa implement a nationwide carbon tax.

Federal Environment Minister John Baird rejected the idea outright.

“I was sitting here at the phone the day after we presented the report with all my information, material and speaking notes and Baird came down and said, ‘we’re not going to institute carbon pricing in Canada at the federal level,’” said Ken McKinnon who represents the Yukon on the roundtable.

“He just said, ‘it’s not the policy of the government of Canada to institute a carbon tax at this time.’

“That was the end of it right there — I mean, I just put all my stuff away.”

Instead of a consumer-based tax, the conservative government plans to create a carbon-trading market that would allow businesses to buy or sell permits to pollute.

Despite the snub from the federal government, the roundtable has received support from both environmental and business groups, as well as provincial governments.

“It was only a few weeks later that British Columbia took the plunge, Quebec has taken a minor plunge, and other provinces are following,” said McKinnon.

“It’s much neater to get it all done in one fell swoop at the national level, which is so much more efficient and works so much better, but if the provinces, one by one, effect the same changes that we were calling for, you win the war.

“You just do it by little battles.”

The report, Getting to 2050: Canada’s Transition to a Low-Emission Future was prepared at the request of the federal government to help it decide how to meet climate-change targets.

Canada plans to make a 65 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

The national roundtable has been working on the report since the fall of 2006.

Members of the group are drawn from distinguished leaders throughout Canada and appointed by the minister of Environment.

Former Yukon MP, Audrey McLaughlin served as a member in the past as well as Nobel Peace Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier.

McKinnon was appointed to the roundtable six months ago.

If a carbon tax were implemented, there would have to be special provisions for the North, McKinnon told his colleagues on the roundtable.

“I wanted to see that if there were a national carbon tax that in the North it would be revenue neutral,” he said.

“That whatever came into the federal coffers from taxing carbon in northern Canada would be introduced back into the economy of the North.”

The Nnorth is the only area in Canada that doesn’t have an absolute fuel-oil tax on heating fuel, he said.

“It’s over $1 a litre and that’s with absolutely no territorial tax at all. Just imagine if all of a sudden oil went up 15 cents or so,” he said.

“I mean it would just be the death knell of so many people and businesses in the North. So there has to be some method.”

The carbon tax announced by the BC government last month uses a similar revenue-neutral method.

All of the extra money generated is returned to taxpayers in the form of income-tax cuts.

This provides an incentive to use less fuel, without hurting the economy.

Northern Canada shouldn’t bear the brunt of the punishment for climate change, said McKinnon.

“We’re the recipients of the pollution from the United States and Canada — it all drifts our way.

“We’re not the instigators.”

The national roundtable is still working on its carbon tax proposal.

The group meets four times a year and the next meeting will take place in Ottawa in May.

For now it seems that Canada will have to implement carbon taxing on a province-by-province basis.

“So it wasn’t lost completely,” said McKinnon.

“It’s not like you work your ass off and all of a sudden the government just says, ‘Meh, that’s it,’ and it goes on a shelf and is never seen again.”

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

Air North president Joe Sparling said the relaxing of self-isolation rules will be good for the business, but he still expects a slow summer. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)
Air North president expects a slow summer

Air North president Joe Sparling suspects it will be a long time before things return to pre-pandemic times


Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

Most Read