Opinion: From climate leader to climate laggard

Terry Duguid, MP Wpg South

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This is an important moment for our province. Premier Pallister has announced that he has changed his mind about protecting the environment—which is especially disappointing since Manitoba was at one time considered a climate leader. As Manitobans, we rely on our Premier’s leadership, and on Wednesday we were left wanting. Protecting the environment is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Before being elected, I was honored to serve as Chair of Manitoba’s Clean Environment Commission, so I know firsthand the work that needs to be done to turn the tide on climate change. Premier Pallister’s choice to go backwards in the fight against climate change is not the solution to the very serious danger climate change presents our communities. I think of the Manitobans that had their homes destroyed in Northern Manitoba’s fires last year, and the rail line to Churchill that was severed in a “once in a generation flood.” Climate change is having real and tangible effects on our homes and livelihoods, and the Premier’s decision to sit back and do nothing about it is downright irresponsible. I also think about how building a greener economy will do more to create jobs for Manitobans. Not only that, but under the Premier’s initial proposed plan, the money from pricing pollution was going to a tax cut for everyone. Unfortunately, with the Premier’s flip flop, that promise is now gone too.
Pollution harms the land, air and water that we will leave our kids and grandkids. It’s bad for the environment and bad for our health. Our government believes that pollution should not be free—but that does not mean we want to break your pocket book either. Where there is a void in leadership from a Premier to tackle pollution, we will fill that void with a price on carbon that will send the money right back to taxpayers. Our government is committed to putting a price on pollution because it works: when something gets more expensive, we look for ways to use less of it. When we encourage businesses to innovate and to turn towards greener solutions, we can create more middle class jobs here at home. A great example of this in action is the success of Winnipeg-based New Flyer Industries, who recently landed a huge sale for their zero-emission busses.
On Wednesday, Premier Pallister’s flip flop surprised even his own cabinet. They were surprised, as am I, that the Premier would want to join Stephen Harper and Andrew Scheer in wanting to make pollution free again. This move is more sad than surprising for Manitobans, who have watched their province go from climate leader to climate laggard. Our federal government will step up, fill the void, and protect our environment.