The Conservatives say the New Democrats and Liberals will drive up your cost of living in the North by creating carbon taxes across Canada.
The Tories believe “any form of a carbon tax would impact every single person living in the North, making the North even more costly to live and work,” according to a press release sent on behalf of all three territorial Conservative candidates.
NWT candidate Floyd Roland told Moose FM that kind of tax would be unbearable for residents and especially for those living in more remote communities.
“We deal with such a high cost of living in the territories and adding another tax to heating fuel and transportation fuel will only get passed on to the customers and just add another burden on top of tough conditions already,” he said.
“Everything from the fuel that gets hauled up here, to heating our homes and groceries would become more expensive.
“When you live in a high-cost area, you’re doing your best already to lower those costs by using less fuel and using alternative initiatives when it makes economic sense.”
The challenge for more remote communities, he says, is that the cost-effectiveness of alternative energy projects doesn’t make sense.
“The GNWT has looked at doing wind initiatives and thermal heat, but the unfortunate result is that a lot of those without subsidization is not very beneficial.
“In some of our more remote communities we’re going to be depending on diesel fuel for some time.”
One solution, according to Roland, is to regionalize larger-scale projects so that communities can become more reliant on their own resources.
“Looking at regionalizing projects like creating clean burning diesel from our natural gas centres here instead of hauling it all the way up from southern Canada is an initiative that could be looked at.”
Roland also noted that emission rates in the North and even in Canada are lower than other developed countries as it is.
But NDP candidate Dennis Bevington isn’t convinced. He told Moose FM several international energy agencies are embracing the idea of a carbon tax as a legitimate way to reduce emissions.
“The NDP likes the idea and would institute a cap and trade system to reduce the use of fossil fuels in future,” he said.
Under a cap and trade system, industries that invest in other forms of energy receive a net return as an incentive to emit fewer greenhouse gases.
A New Democrat government would also commit more to cleaner forms of energy.
“What we will do and what the Conservatives have not done in their time in office is invest in renewable energy in the North,” said Bevington.
“Here, our territorial government has taken a leadership role in moving to renewable energy.
“We’ve got some very progressive things going on here but not much support from the federal government and that’s what has to change.”
Bevington pointed to recent biomass, solar and wind projects in the territory as examples of how the territory has got it right.
But ultimately, he says an NDP government would work with the provinces and territories to craft emission targets that make sense for each jurisdiction.
To that point, the New Democrats and Liberals appear to share some common ground.
NWT Liberal candidate Michael McLeod told us his party isn’t committed to a federal carbon tax, but that it would “work with the provinces and in our case the GNWT and Aboriginal governments to form a partnership that would set out emission targets of our own.
“If the territory wants to go the carbon tax route, then that’s totally up to them,” he said. “We would support the territory and what the people in the territory want to do and we’d support that with federal funding.
“We want a plan that everyone is going to buy into and not be shoved down their throats.”
McLeod accused the Conservatives of fearmongering, and told Moose FM he’d like to see the party come up with more concrete solutions to support the economy while protecting the environment.