Kitchener-Waterloo

'Irresponsible and reckless': Ontario Green Party leader pans Doug Ford's cuts

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner has sent a letter to Premier-designate Doug Ford asking him to take action on climate change.

Cancelling things like cap-and-trade could cost taxpayers money, Mike Schreiner worries

Green party leader Mike Schreiner has sent Premier-designate Doug Ford a letter about the costs of scrapping climate change actions. (@MikeSchreiner/Twitter)

Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner has sent a letter to Premier-designate Doug Ford asking him to rethink some of the promises he's made to cut green energy programs.

"The premier designate, his first actions has been to really start to dismantle Ontario's climate change action plan, and to do that without having an alternative in place is irresponsible and reckless," Schreiner said.

"So I wanted to reach out to the new premier and say, 'I want to work across party lines to solve the climate crisis.'"

Ford, who will be sworn in Friday, has already announced that the first act of his government after the swearing-in will be to cancel Ontario's cap and trade program to reduce carbon emissions.

That announcement triggered the end of a program to provide Ontario homeowners with rebates on products to improve energy efficiency, such as smart thermostats and new windows.

Schreiner, who made history in this year's provincial election by winning the first seat at Queen's Park for the Green Party of Ontario, sent the letter to Premier-designate Ford Thursday morning.

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner has asked Premier-designate Doug Ford to "slow down." (@OntarioGreens/Twitter)

"I am writing to you on the eve of the swearing in of your government on behalf of the Green Party of Ontario, my constituents in Guelph and people from across the province who care about jobs, the environment and our economy," he wrote.

"I want to work with your government to help Ontario create jobs, save money and fight climate change. I was elected to Queen's Park on a promise to do politics differently, and I am ready to find common ground with you to build this province up in a financially and environmentally sustainable way."

Costs could soar to $4B, Schreiner says

Schreiner said there are multiple things he is concerned about when it comes to Ford's swift changes as the new Premier.

"First of all, I'm concerned about the idea of just scrapping the cap and trade program without having a transition plan of how to exit from it," he said in an interview Thursday. 

"Some legal analysis has suggested that exiting the cap and trade without waiting until the first compliance period ends will cost us $2 to $4 billion plus an additional $100 million in legal costs ... I don't think the people of Ontario voted for a government that will cost us that kind of money."

He also said he is concerned with the programs Ford cancelled that put money in people's pockets to help them lower energy bills.

'I ask you to slow down'

"I ask you to slow down. To consider the costs of your campaign slogans. To give businesses time to adjust. To show us a plan before killing what's in place," his letter read. 

Schreiner told CBC News he sent the letter because he feels he has "a responsibility to reach across party lines and work hard to come up with a plan that helps Ontario create jobs, lower energy bills and fight climate change."

He said since being elected, he has not met with Ford or any of the other people in Ford's party due to their busy schedules, but Schreiner said he is still prepared to work with them.

Ford responds

In a written statement to CBC News Thursday afternoon, PC party spokesperson Simon Jefferies said the party received a "clear mandate from the people" to scrap cap and trade.

"Scrapping the cap-and-trade carbon tax will save the average Ontarian $285 per year and is the first step in reducing gas prices by 10 cents per litre," the statement read.

The statement said once the PC government is sworn in on Friday, they will provide clear guidelines for "winding down the cap-and-trade scheme in a responsible manner."

Jefferies declined an interview on the matter.

With files from Kate Bueckert

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