Jagmeet Singh defends NDP position on carbon pricing

(Ottawa) New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Jagmeet Singh insisted Monday that his party’s position on carbon pricing remains unchanged.

But he refused to explicitly say whether he supports the consumption tax and the fact that Canadians must pay it on everyday products like gasoline.

“Our position has not changed at all,” he told reporters. We are absolutely in favor of pricing pollution. We have always supported her. »

Mr. Singh faced the media for the first time since his speech last week at the annual Progress Summit, where he sowed confusion over the NDP’s position on the federal consumption tax on fuel.

He had sung the praises of “affordable, low-carbon options” and pledged to “not punish people” who cannot change the way they heat their homes or travel to work.

He later said New Democrats would present a vision for tackling climate change that would focus on initiatives with the biggest impact, such as methane regulations and a carbon price for industrial emitters.

“Make these rules even stricter, make them even stronger, look for other ways for us to really fight against the big polluters,” he told journalists last Thursday.

“We don’t want workers to feel like they’re carrying the burden. It is not fair. And frankly, this is not a New Democratic solution to the problem. »

His comments follow those of NDP environment critic Laurel Collins, who indicated that carbon pricing is not the end-all-be-all solution to climate action, explaining the NDP’s decision to vote alongside the Conservatives for a parliamentary motion criticizing Liberal policy.

The NDP has long championed carbon pricing and included it in its 2019 campaign.

The apparent change in tone even seemed to disconcert Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who admitted last week that he didn’t understand the NDP’s position.

Mr. Trudeau noted that Mr. Singh faces “political pressure” from Conservative prime ministers and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, who want to abandon the policy.

Poilievre traveled across the country, including NDP strongholds in British Columbia and northern Ontario, to rally his supporters around his “get rid of taxes” message.

Polls show the NDP and Liberals throwing support behind the Conservatives, while Poilievre defends affordability as his top issue, describing the supply and confidence deal they reached in March 2022 as an “expensive coalition “.

The NDP criticizes the Liberals

The NDP says the deal helped Canadians win on pharmacare and dental care, even if it was difficult to get that across.

While the Conservative leader accuses the consumer carbon price of adding to Canadians’ concerns about affordability, the Liberals and NDP accuse him of having no plan to fight climate change.

Following Mr. Singh’s speech last week, the NDP released a statement insisting that it supports the “consumer price of carbon.”

But when asked on Monday whether he himself maintains this position, he simply replied that the party’s voting results clearly indicate that he supports “a price on pollution”, without specifying whether this includes a levy paid by consumers despite multiple questions to this effect.

“We are absolutely in favor of pricing pollution. We have not changed our position on this point,” he insisted.

“We need to make sure we fight the climate crisis with everything we have, but the Liberals are eroding that trust by failing to support the working class,” added Mr. Singh.

He accused the Liberal government of continuing to provide subsidies to oil and gas companies without supporting working class families.

“The Liberals have billions of dollars for subsidies to oil companies, but no money for people who want heat pumps, and that’s unfair,” he said.

He previously criticized the prime minister’s decision to exempt home heating oil from the carbon price for three years, calling it a divisive decision.

Nearly one in three households in Atlantic Canada relies on home heating oil, and the exclusion from the government’s flagship climate policy came after the region’s Liberal MPs raised concerns about the rising cost of living.

Mr. Trudeau and the Minister of the Environment, Steven Guilbeault, have ruled out any other exception.

This is despite demands from western premiers, like Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, who say households that use natural gas should benefit from the same reduction.

Mr. Moe is among a majority of provincial leaders, including Liberal Prime Minister Andrew Furey of Newfoundland and Labrador, who are calling on Trudeau to call a meeting to discuss alternatives to consumer carbon pricing .

Mr. Trudeau argued that the provinces were on board when the government decided to move forward with carbon pricing years ago.

Today’s prime ministers are too busy complaining and not coming up with their own plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the prime minister charged.

A Conservative motion calling on Mr. Trudeau to sit down with the premiers for a televised meeting was passed in the House of Commons last week with the support of the NDP and the Bloc Québécois.

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