Better Carbon Pricing, Not Platitudes, Needed to Reduce Emissions

May 15th, 2019

Regina–Lewvan MP Erin Weir will not support today’s federal NDP motion because it fails to address carbon pricing or propose any other mechanism to reduce emissions. He made the following statement:

Although the federal NDP leader arbitrarily expelled me from caucus, I have consistently voted for NDP opposition day motions because I continue to be motivated by social democratic principles.

Almost everyone supports most of the themes listed in today’s motion: reconciliation, just transition, ambitious climate targets, removing fossil-fuel subsidies, and protecting human health. But I cannot vote for a motion on climate change that offers such platitudes without any specific policies to reduce emissions.

The motion is specific only about what it opposes: the Trans Mountain expansion project. To the extent we are using oil, pipelines are the cleanest and safest means of transporting it. Stopping Trans Mountain would be consistent with reducing emissions only if combined with far more significant policies to reduce oil demand.

Rather than attempting to develop a nuanced position on pipelines acceptable to New Democrats across Canada, the federal NDP leadership seemed to have simply adopted the BC government’s position of supporting pipelines for liquified natural gas from BC while opposing pipelines for oil from the Prairies.

Today’s motion calls for “robust rules for implementing the Paris Agreement” without suggesting what those rules might be. It is completely silent on carbon pricing as a mechanism to reduce emissions.

The main objection to carbon pricing in Saskatchewan is that it could prompt industry to relocate to jurisdictions that do not price emissions. Since the federal government announced national carbon pricing in 2016, I have proposed extending it to imports and rebating it on exports to ensure a level playing field for Canadian workers.

While some federal NDP leadership candidates endorsed this proposal, the NDP leader’s office banned me from Question Period and eventually accused me of “harassment” for attempting to debate it.

The federal NDP has subsequently refused to articulate any position on carbon pricing, the single most important tool to reduce emissions and likely the main policy debate in this year’s election.