A Liberal government would set national targets for reducing carbon emissions but would allow provinces to design their own policies to meet them, Justin Trudeau said Friday.
The Liberal leader announced he'll work with premiers to establish a Canadian carbon-reduction standard and provide federal funding to help provinces achieve the targets.
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And he promised to do it all within a few months if he wins the federal election scheduled for mid-October.
Within 90 days of a United Nations climate change conference in early December, Trudeau said he'd meet the premiers and territorial leaders to implement a national carbon-reduction framework.
His flexible approach is preferable to trying to impose a "one-size-fits-all" scheme on all provinces, Trudeau said, noting that some provinces have already begun implementing their own carbon reduction schemes, including carbon taxes in British Columbia and Quebec and a mix of regulation and cap-and-trade in Alberta.
And he said it shows he's not about to repeat the same mistake his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, made when he imposed the national energy program in the early 1980s — infuriating western Canada and turning Alberta in particular into an electoral wasteland for the Liberals.
"I'm the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, my last name is Trudeau and I'm standing here at the Petroleum Club in Calgary," he told a business audience in the heart of Alberta's oilpatch.
"I understand how energy issues can divide the country. But I also know that strong leadership can see us through the challenges we face. Not leadership by fiat but leadership that listens, that respects our differences while bringing people together and keeps the door open to new and innovative ideas."
Trudeau said his flexible approach to reducing carbon emissions is similar to the province-driven, federally supported creation of Canada's most cherished social program: universal health care.