Yukon MLAs vote down motion to condemn federal carbon tax increase

The Yukon Legislative Assembly in March 2023. (Sarah Xenos/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Yukon Legislative Assembly in March 2023. (Sarah Xenos/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The Yukon Legislative Assembly has defeated a motion to condemn an increase to the federal carbon tax.

That tax is due to go up by about 23 per cent on April 1, adding roughly three cents more per litre to the price Yukoners pay for gas.

Yukon Party MLA Wade Istchenko, who represents Kluane, brought the motion forward Wednesday to condemn the increase. The motion ultimately failed, with eight MLAs voting in favour and 10 voting against it.

Istchenko said people can't afford that increase when they're already struggling with a high cost of living.

He said the motion was aimed at adding the Yukon's voice to those asking for the federal Liberals to "hit the pause button" on the increase.

"It would give people a chance to deal with inflation that they are already facing," he said.

MLAs who voted against Istchenko's motion pointed to the need to address climate change, and the fact that rebates exist for taxpayers.

John Streicker, the Yukon minister for Energy, Mines and Resources, said recent fires and floods in the territory have triggered evacuations and damaged properties, infrastructure and resources.

The purpose of the tax — to help address climate change — shouldn't be forgotten, he said.

"We are trying to talk about how to balance the costs of these actions against the costs of inaction," Streicker said.

"We must find this path to deal with climate change. Carbon pricing is an essential piece of that."

Lane Tredger, the NDP MLA for Whitehorse Centre, said the issues of affordability and climate change are tied together and have to be dealt with together.

Tredger said they have heard from Yukoners who are struggling with both issues.

"I want to make the commitment that we are going to look for solutions and work and fight for solutions to make both of those things better. Getting rid of the carbon tax is not it," they said.