This is page numbers 6187 - 6288 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 3rd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was public.

Topics

Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6283

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member for Frame Lake.

Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6283

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I know that it has been a long day, but I need to go on the record for my constituents so that they can see, in the future, what happened here tonight. I supported carbon tax as part of a comprehensive strategy for taking action on climate change. However, I don't support Cabinet's plan.

That plan is made up of three parts: the carbon tax bill that is before us this evening, Bill 42, which imposes, basically, a surcharge, a tax on some fuels. The other two parts of Cabinet's approach on this include the Energy Strategy, and I have spoken at length about the Energy Strategy. It's focused on Taltson rather than building real community and household energy self-sufficiency.

I have also talked about the Climate Change Strategic Framework that did not really address the failures identified by the Auditor General's Office in conducting a climate change audit of the Northwest Territories. The recommendation was that we develop real leadership, structure, organization, to allow for success. We had two strategies previously, they both failed, and I think that we are heading in the same direction. Of course, with the Climate Change Strategic Framework, 44 percent of the greenhouse gas reductions are supposed to come from Taltson expansion. I just can't see how it is going to be accomplished, Mr. Speaker.

The purpose of the carbon tax bill has always been pitched by this Cabinet, by this Minister, as the big, bad federal government coming in here and imposing another tax on Northerners. This could have been an opportunity for us to actually face the reality of the climate crisis that is before us and start to find ways to transition to a new economy that is free of fossil fuels and build energy self-sufficiency. That is the kind of transition and leadership that should have come from our Cabinet, but it didn't.

In terms of collaboration with the committee on the development of this plan, I am not a Member of the committee, but I got to sit in on a lot of the deliberations, and I can honestly say that, when the committee had requested options, scenarios, from the Minister, nothing came forward. That information was not provided to committee. You heard from my colleague in Yellowknife Centre about how some other jurisdictions have actually developed plans that I think are far superior to ours.

Committee was interested in taking the bill on the road, but the Minister continued to make changes to the large emitter provisions, and committee felt that there was no way that they could share that information with the public, so what is the point of taking something on the road when you can't share the latest possible information? There wasn't even a plain language summary of the bill and what it would do.

What we have ended up with, Mr. Speaker, is a bill that is a made-by-Cabinet approach where all of the rebates, all of the grants, all of that will be totally controlled by the Minister in the future. We have seen a transfer of the authority of this House to a Minister in a future government to set what that plan is going to look like. I just don't think that this is good public policy.

Others have spoken about the lack of public reporting in the bill. There is no requirement for public reporting of the revenues in and the revenues out. There may not even be an opportunity for the public to comment on the draft regulations that set what the rebates and grants may be in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I tried to bring forward amendments to the bill to require some public reporting, require public input into the regulations. Unfortunately, they were ruled out of order because of the way that the bill had been crafted. I tried to make changes on the floor of the House and wasn't able to, because of the way that the bill was put together.

I am not going to go over the Yukon approach that my colleague from Yellowknife Centre spoke to very eloquently, but it does provide rebates to municipalities, First Nation governments. It does provide for revenue sharing and rebates with adjustments for those living in rural and remote communities. Mr. Speaker, we could and should have had that kind of plan here for our citizens. That's not what we got.

That might still be possible in the future, but not with this bill, not with the plan that Cabinet has developed. I cannot support Cabinet's plan. I believe it should be sent back for a more collaborative approach, for the 19th Assembly to begin to take real action on climate change. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6284

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member for Nahendeh.

Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6284

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will be real quick and short. I don't support a carbon tax. I don't. I don't think it is great. It has an impact on Northerners. Unfortunately, the federal government has come up with it and said, "You either come up with one, or we will impose one." Therefore, I had to make a hard decision based on the information provided to me in this House. I will, as I told the Minister, support this bill. It is about Northerners. For me, it is about my elders who I represent. By allowing the federal government to just put carbon tax onto diesel fuel, we are going to see less fuel going into their homes.

Right now, it is 74 percent. That is what their subsidy is, according to what I have received. We will see this going down even further and further. As fuel goes up and up and the subsidy doesn't move anywhere, we will see that huge impact on our elders. These are the people who brought and were our foundation in the Northwest Territories. I am here standing up for them and saying, "This is not the best possible solution." I need to tell them that this is something that we have to do. At least it is at the origin, where it is going to be sold. It makes a difference for our residents. At least we are not seeing that cost to it. The aviation fuel, in my communities, they have to fly in. They have to charter in. At least now, they are not going to see that cost increased. It is not going to be put onto them.

These are some of the things I had to understand as I vote for this bill. I appreciate my colleagues and their concerns. I heard them. At the end of the day, I have to do what is right for the residents of Nahendeh. I will support this bill at the end of the day. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6284

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Minister.

Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6284

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the comments that are being made. I feel compelled to stand up and speak to whoever is left awake in the Northwest Territories at this late hour and let them know because the messaging that they have been getting is: we have been letting some of the negative messaging get out there. We need to not do that. We need to not play politics with something as important as this.

I have heard someone say that our Premier signed onto this Pan-Canadian Framework, and he agreed that we need to come up with a made-in-NWT approach. I believe we did. I believe we did. We did exactly what we said we were going to do. They recognized the uniqueness of the challenges of the Northwest Territories, so we worked with them to come up with an approach instead of just going with the stream, going with the current, sometimes, which is the easiest thing to do as we have seen so many times.

We had a public engagement. We went out to the public across the Northwest Territories. We tabled a "what we heard" document. You can pick and choose things out of there. Of course there are going to be comments in there, truthful comments about "We don't want a tax." They are being honest. A lot of comments in there about "Okay. We are going to be taxed, but we are worried about cost of living." We tried to take steps to address that.

I hear the comments about "Well, this jurisdiction that. This jurisdiction that. This jurisdiction that." I heard a number of comments about the Yukon. They are providing $11.7 million in rebates to individuals. Northwest Territories is providing about $18.5 million between COLO and the point of purchase rebate on heating fuel. They also provide rebates similar to NWT COLO. However, they are not rebating the carbon tax on heating fuel, which results in the NWT, in my opinion, being superior.

By providing a point of purchase on the carbon tax on heating fuel, this ensures that those who pay the carbon tax, like homeowners who pay all their bills, receive the rebate. It doesn't require the resident to pay the carbon tax upfront. This applies to businesses, as well. They are not required to pay the carbon tax on the heating fuel upfront because, if they had to, they would have to pass those costs on to someone. Who would they pass them on to?

We recognize what this carbon tax is supposed to do. It is supposed to do our part in helping to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. We will do that. We also have an obligation to the people of the Northwest Territories that we are going to try and do what we can to protect them and their well-being and not have things to a place where it is so high that they consider moving out.

I have heard both the work that another jurisdiction is doing with the mines. One jurisdiction referenced, "Provide 100 percent rebate to the mining industry." How can we say we do that? Our system rebates about 84 percent. Some of that rebate is tied to greenhouse gas reducing initiatives. The jurisdiction in question is also not investing very much of their carbon tax, if any, into energy initiatives. Our government is expecting to invest about $8 million annually in energy initiatives with carbon tax revenue.

Municipal and Indigenous governments will receive some money under another rebate but will pay the carbon tax on all fuels. In the NWT, our community governments and organizations will get the point of purchase rebate on carbon tax on heating fuel. This is expected to save NWT community governments $1.1 million in carbon tax.

Electricity rates will also be protected for the community governments. Businesses in the Yukon are being rebated some money. In the Northwest Territories, businesses are being supported through the purchase rebates on heating fuel, which in our climate, as we all know, is a big cost driver. Let's face the reality here. It is a big cost driver.

My understanding from the information I got is that Nunavut and NWT Chamber of Mines doesn't agree with the Canadian Mine Association's position on carbon pricing.

We have done a lot of work. We have done the public engagement. We have listened to them. We have heard what they had to say. For anybody to stand there and say that this government is more concerned about rebates and that, we are trying to do our part in reducing the greenhouse gas emission. We will continue to do that. We have had a lot of energy initiatives that have been funded by this government. We have a lot of energy initiatives that have been partially funded by the federal government in their attempt to reduce the greenhouse.

Let's not use this as political pandering, Mr. Speaker. I mean that seriously. This is something that is very serious. I commend those who have said that, as hard as this is, "I am going to bite the bullet. I am going to support this." Because of the two options, I believe what they told me, first of all: I believe our plan is better.

I will continue to defend this because, at the end of the day, the bottom line is: we need to do our part. Even though our emissions are quite low compared to the rest of Canada, we will do our part. We have to. We have to. Our climate is very important to us. Let's not sound like it is, not to this Minister and the people he represents and the Indigenous people that he is a part of. Don't tell me that.

Again, I will go back to the fact that I commend those who have said this is a hard decision that they have to make. I have said that already, and I will say it again.

Mr. Speaker, it might look good, saying, "I am opposed to a carbon tax. I want to delay the carbon tax." It is going to be implemented. We have been told that. It is going to be implemented. It might look good politically to say that, but reality says that this is going to be implemented, and I will not take a chance on the well-being of the people of the Northwest Territories by playing politics with something as important as this. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6285

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion.

Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6285

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6285

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Question has been called. All those in favour, please stand.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st, 2019

Page 6285

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

The Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes, the Member for Hay River South, the Member for Thebacha, the Member for Mackenzie Delta, the Member for Sahtu, the Member for Nahendeh, the Member for Deh Cho, the Member for Nunakput, the Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, the Member for Range Lake, the Member for Great Slave, the Member for Yellowknife South.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6285

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. All those opposed, please stand.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6285

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

The Member for Hay River North, the Member for Yellowknife North, the Member for Kam Lake, the Member for Frame Lake, the Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6285

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. All those abstaining, please stand. The results of the recorded vote: 12 in favour, five opposed, zero abstentions. The motion is carried.

---Carried

Bill 42 has had its third reading. Third reading of bills. Minister of Finance.

Bill 43: An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6286

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Yellowknife South, that Bill 43, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be read for the third time; and, Mr. Speaker, I would request a recorded vote. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 43: An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act
Third Reading Of Bills

August 21st

Page 6286

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. The Member has requested a recorded vote. The motion is in order. To the motion.