Candidates defend climate plans as environment becomes top ballot issue
OTTAWA – Representatives from each of the major federal parties running in this year’s federal election are defending their own climate policies while criticizing their competitors as the environment shapes up to be a top issue among voters.
On a CTV Question Period panel airing on Sunday, the Liberals’ Marco Mendicino, the Conservatives’ Lisa Raitt, the NDP’s Daniel Blaikie, and the Greens’ Jean-Luc Cooke, pitched with few specifics how their camps would curb emissions, while spending most of the conversation diverting attention to the pitfalls of their opponents plans.
This after a Nanos Research survey, released Monday, shows environment and climate change as the top issue on Canadians’ priority list when it comes to how they’ll vote this election.
Toronto-based Liberal candidate Marco Mendicino pointed criticism straight at Conservative candidate Lisa Raitt, for her party’s plan which he said “is equivalent to the earth is flat.”
“Mr. Scheer said the very first thing he’d do if elected, would be to make pollution free again. I think that shows he doesn’t get it. He thinks climate change is either a hoax or good for Canadians,” he added.
Mendicino touted his party’s climate plan, and specifically the carbon tax provision, which according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer misses the Paris emissions deduction target as it stands today.
The government has promised a $50-per-tonne price cap by 2022. Mendicino didn’t answer whether his party would raise that price to meet the international agreement.
Raitt, on the other hand, stuck to the familiar Conservative talking point of affordability.
“We don’t believe that the consumer and the tax payer should shoulder the entire burden of [a carbon tax], so yes, we say big polluters should be a part of it.”
Under their plan, the Conservatives would scrap a carbon tax and instead implement an emissions cap on big emitters who exceed 40,000 tonnes per year. If they surpass this threshold, they’d be required to invest in green technology.
Raitt avoided questioning about the price these heavy emitters would have to dump into the innovation fund.
“It’s not going to be $100 a tonne, placed solely on the backs of the consumer, I can tell you that,” she said.
NDP representative Daniel Blaikie said the NDP would aim to reach the Paris targets but didn’t state how the party would cut emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, as outlined in the agreement.
“What we want are science-based targets that actually ensure Canada does its share in terms of reducing its carbon footprint, we want them enshrined in legislation,” said Blaikie.
The NDP have said they will keep the Liberals’ carbon tax, but that it will add new environmentally friendly initiatives like making all-new builds energy efficient by 2030 and move to 100 per cent electric transit by the same date.
Last up to pitch their environmental policy, in the panel airing Sunday, was the Green Party, who arguably has the most aggressive plan going into the federal election.
Candidate Jean-Luc Cooke said “a price on carbon is only part of the answer.”
“What we need to have is a significant amount of infrastructure development as well, inter-provincial, hydro-electric connectivity because really the target is zero.”
The party has committed to double the 30 per cent Paris target, cutting emissions by 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Their vision of the carbon tax is infinite until emissions are eliminated.
While the economy took top place in the Nanos survey, the usual ballot box issues like the economy, trustworthiness, and healthcare trailed closely behind.
Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between August 29th to September 4th , 2019 as part of an omnibus survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The sample included both land- and cell-lines across Canada. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Canada.
Individuals randomly called using random digit dialling with a maximum of five call backs. The margin of error for this survey is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. This study was commissioned by CTV News and the research was conducted by Nanos Research. Note: Charts may not add up to 100 due to rounding.