Horwath promises massive emissions cuts

The Canadian Press
Shawn Jeffords

HAMILTON–NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is promising that if her party wins Ontario’s next election, the province will commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions at standards in line with international targets.
Horwath told party members attending a policy convention in her hometown of Hamilton on Saturday that an NDP government would reduce Ontario’s emissions by at least 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
She said an NDP government would further promise to achieve net-zero emissions in the province by the year 2050, in what she said marks a stark contrast to Premier Doug Ford’s approach to climate change.
“Most of us, here in Ontario and around the world, understand the magnitude of the challenge we’re facing–and that we’ve run out of runway,” Horwath said during a keynote speech.
“Yet Doug Ford does not. The climate crisis is not his priority, but it’s mine. It’s yours.”
Horwath laid out the plan–dubbed the Green New Democratic Deal–for 1,500 people attending the party’s first policy gathering since becoming the province’s official Opposition in last year’s election.
She said the targets align with the most ambitious aspects of the Paris Agreement, stressing that as Canada’s largest province Ontario has to do its share to fight climate change.
The plan outlines targets and says it will further develop over the next three years during consultations with party members, but the 27-page policy document provides no costing for the measures it discusses.
In a post-speech press conference, Horwath could not say how much the plan will cost Ontario residents.
“We’re going to spend the next number of weeks and months ahead putting together the finer details and consulting with, not just the members in our party but with industry and academia and with environmentalists,” she said.
“By the time we have a full and complete plan we’ll have a better idea of that.”
The policy paper says the plan will “require a combination of new revenue streams, fair carbon pricing, lending and borrowing.”
Horwath confirmed that an NDP government would re-introduce a carbon pricing system to Ontario but denied that it will necessarily require a tax increase.
“There are many different types of carbon pricing plans and many different ways to achieve that,” she said. “What we’re saying is that we believe that that needs to happen. I have been very supportive of cap-and-trade over the years . . . but there are other ideas out there.”
The party says it would also encourage homeowners and businesses to participate in a building retrofit program to cut emissions, and the plan promises “tailored supports” to industry, without spelling out what those supports will be.
The party says its plan will also create new jobs for tradespeople, public transit operators, engineers and scientists.
“We will ensure that every Ontarian has the opportunity to train for and succeed in the jobs we’ll be creating,” Horwath said.
Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said he welcomes all parties to jump on the “green bandwagon,” adding that he released his plan to fight climate change last year.
“I will continue to work across party lines in an effort to push each party to be bold and innovative to solve the climate emergency,” Schreiner said in a statement.
“I hope the NDP brings the same spirit of collaboration to their climate plan. Greens are happy to help them answer many of the questions in their discussion paper.”
Delegates at the Hamilton convention voted 84 percent in favour of not holding a formal review of Horwath’s leadership, a poll that takes place at every party policy convention.
Horwath, who has been at the party helm since 2009 and led the party last year to its largest seat count since the 1990s, was expected to easily survive the vote.
The 56-year-old has seen three elections as party leader and has given no indication she plans to step down before the next vote in 2022.