NDP haunted by Doer enviro-promise

Manitoba Green Party Leader James Beddome is reminding voters of a now infamous Gary Doer promise: that the NDP would control climate change pollution, or voters could turf them.

Greens, PCs remind voters of NDP promise on climate change unlikely to be kept

Greens, PCs remind voters of former premier Gary Doer promise on climate change unlikely to be kept. 2:11

Green Party of Manitoba Leader James Beddome is reminding voters at doorsteps of a now infamous Gary Doer promise — that the NDP would control dangerous climate change pollution, or voters could turf them from office.

"So now, here we are, they're not going to live up to their [greenhouse gas reduction] commitments, so I hope they pay for it in the election," Beddome said, with a big grin, while canvassing in Wolseley on Thursday.

In April 2008, then-NDP leader Gary Doer announced a new law committing Manitoba to curb greenhouse gas pollution dramatically to the so-called Kyoto level by 2012, or six per cent below 1990 emissions.

The Climate Change and Emissions Reduction Act did not spell out consequences for failing to meet the target, but Doer said the electorate would.

"If you don't achieve it, I suggest that the ultimate penalty in 2011 will be defeating the government," Doer told reporters at the legislature at the time.

Former Manitoba premier Gary Doer speaking to reporters in 2008 about his government's climate-change reduction targets. ((CBC))

But in December 2010, Manitoba Auditor General Carol Bellringer said the province will not come even close to reaching its target.

The amount of pollution remaining to be cut was 2.7 megatonnes — the equivalent of removing every car off the road in Manitoba.

Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen said his party will release its climate change plan in the election campaign soon.

"Climate change is taking place — I think the scientific advice is strong on that. What we would have concerns about is the NDP approach of making promises and then breaking them," McFadyen said.

Selinger 'committed' to target

But current NDP Leader Greg Selinger said he is not haunted by Doer's pledge.

"No, because we've reduced greenhouse gas emissions in Manitoba by over 1.3 million tonnes," Selinger said.

"It's an enormous accomplishment at a time when many other provinces are seeing growth in their greenhouse gas emissions."

Green Party Leader James Beddome has until Sept. 10 to secure all his party's candidates. ((CBC))

Selinger said he remains "committed" to the Kyoto target, though he has admitted in the past that it will be a daunting challenge.

Speaking at the University of Winnipeg on Wednesday, federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told a packed crowd — consisting mostly of young people — that Manitoba's main political parties "don't get" the seriousness of the climate crisis and how it impacts the province's floods, agriculture, and food security.

"NDP? You can do better. [Progressive] Conservatives? Let's face it, Manitobans, you couldn't do much worse.  Elect some Greens to keep the NDP honest," said May.

May also quoted a scientific study suggesting Manitoba's recent flood woes were connected to climate change, though many climatologists say it's difficult to make this link.

Greens in Manitoba are promising free bus fare among other initiatives to cut greenhouse gases and get an estimated 20,000 commuters to leave their cars at home. They cost out this particular pledge at $35 million per year.

Beddome said the party currently has 22 confirmed candidates, but he hopes to attract more by next week to be eligible to participate in the televised leaders' debates.

The Liberal Party of Manitoba has said it would reduce greenhouse gases by making more investments in rapid transit.