Federal election candidates address environmental issues - NDP
YLJ FILE PHOTO/JAMES ARMSTRONG
Vaudreuil-Soulanges NDP MP Jamie Nicholls outlines part of his party’s plan to mitigate environmental issues in our region.
Although the economy and job creation are usually the items on most voters’ minds when election time rolls around, the environment has increasingly become a prevalent issue with voters. Earlier this year, the environmental group Équiterre published a set of “six questions to ask candidates in your riding.” Your Local Journal used these questions as a basis for interviewing Vaudreuil-Soulanges candidates. Over the next few weeks, we will post their answers. We continue our series of interviews with Jamie Nicholls of the New Democratic Party (NDP).
Considering that scientists suggest reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 80 to 100 per cent by 2050, what should the emissions target of your government be from now until 2050?
New Democrats have a concrete plan to protect the environment while growing the economy and creating good jobs. Our targets are in the Climate Change Accountability Act. We set real targets for emissions reductions that use 1990 as baseline. Conservatives use 2005. The Liberals are not willing to commit to a baseline. At the 1990 baseline, the UNFCC measured Canada’s emissions at 594 million tonnes. We commit, by 2025, to a 34 per cent reduction in 1990 levels in order to keep average global warming below 2 degrees. We propose a 204-million tonne reduction over the next ten years. We commit to, at the very least, an 80 per cent reduction by 2050.
Given that Canada appears unable to meet current GHG emissions reduction targets, how do you think Canada will ever meet targets with national oil production expected to reach 6 million barrels/day (BPD) by 2050 (up from an estimated 2.5 million BPD in 2014)?
Forecasts fluctuate and this one is based on if the past 20 years of government inaction on climate change continue. Liberal chief advisor Eddie Goldenberg stated in 2007 that the liberals signed The Kyoto Accord as a public relations exercise. As a result, emissions increased by 27 per cent. Between 1996 and 2002, Liberals handed out more than $8 billion in oil and gas subsidies. Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff, Cyrus Reporter, and strategic advisor, Dan Gagnier, were both lobbyists for the oil and gas industry. Liberals and Conservatives over the past 20 years have rewarded polluters with taxpayer money. We will reward energy efficiencies and innovations to reduce emissions.
Since many people and organisations agree it is the most efficient method, is your party willing to levy a carbon tax? And if so, will motorists be expected to bear the brunt of such a carbon tax, or can we expect the larger contributor, i.e. the tar sand industry, to be the one to contribute most significantly to that tax? Do you think Canada should continue to subsidize the oil industry?
We would not implement a carbon tax. We would put a price on carbon and use a market-based mechanism, which means the largest polluters pay and the companies that make reductions are rewarded. We would create the office of the gas ombudsman and strengthen the competition bureau’s ability to look into gas price fixing. The price of gas in North America is determined by the New York Harbour price and then provincial and federal taxes are added. I don’t want another consumers’ tax at the pump - they’re overburdened already. We would end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and give incentives for the growth of the clean tech and renewable sectors.
Since transportation contributes almost a third of Canadian GHG emissions, is your party willing to invest in a strategic development plan for mass transportation and electrical transportation projects, as opposed to levying a carbon tax on motorists who have to rely on long commutes in areas where public transport is not available or inadequate to get to work?
As deputy spokesperson of Transport and Infrastructure, we proposed the National Public Transit Strategy. Improving transit and sustainable infrastructure in our communities makes environmental and economic sense. Traffic gridlock costs commuters time and money. We plan to give communities the tools they need to build the infrastructure of sustainability.
Since tar sands are the most important source of the increase in GHG emissions in Canada, will your party commit to slow down their development and oppose projects such as Énergie Est? Are the few, local jobs that the proposed pipeline is purported to create worth the dangers?
The transition to renewable and clean tech sectors is a first priority. The clean tech market is a $1 trillion market. By 2030, that number is expected to triple. We would implement a coordinated policy framework to get in on that activity and stimulate our economy.
We can’t approve any project because we don’t have a credible environmental assessment process that includes measuring GHG emissions in oilsands projects. We would put in a credible assessment process that also looks at oilsands emissions. The health of our lakes and rivers is not negotiable. Liberals and conservatives voted together to weaken the navigable waters act and to build an oil port at Cacouna in Beluga habitat. They let energy companies police themselves. We propose a proper environmental assessment and a polluter pay model. We would seriously enforce safety and environmental regulations.
Does your party support full hydrostatic testing on Enbridge’s 9B line, especially along the crucial legs that cross our waterways, as opposed to proposed partial testing on selected legs of the pipeline?
The current environmental assessment process is not credible. Allowing the companies to police themselves was a habit started under the Liberals and continues under the Conservatives. Therefore, we can’t approve the reversal of line 9B. The communities along the Ottawa want hydrostatic testing, and I have brought that message to Ottawa.