Sask. premier missing opportunity to create green jobs: NDP

Provincial NDP Leader Cam Broten says the province is missing the "economic opportunity" to create resource-development jobs.

Cam Broten wants provincial funding to support it

Opposition leader Cam Broten speaks with media in this photo, from late November. (CBC)

Premier Brad Wall has been making headlines lately, during the climate change conference in Paris, where he was urging leaders to consider protecting the economy and resource-based jobs in the energy sector. 

Wall also spent some time touting SaskPower's carbon capture storage technology. 

With the end of the current legislative session, the NDP opposition party's leader, Cam Broten, joined CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning to talk about this province's — and its government's — record on climate change issues.

On Brad Wall's comments about climate change and protecting resource-based jobs

Broten said he doesn't "see it as the either-or proposition that Mr. Wall's talking about. Absolutely the province needs to continue to develop all of our resources in a sustainable way. We also need to expand into renewables."

He said Wall is missing the "economic opportunity we have in creating good, green jobs throughout the province."

As for what those green jobs look like, he said that green jobs still mean "there'll continue to be resource-development jobs. That's a huge part of what's made Saskatchewan a successful province."

Such jobs, Broten noted, would be in the renewable energy sector, utilizing resources like wind, solar and hydro power, which give "economic opportunity to our [regional municipalities], to agricultural producers, to First Nations."

Coal power and carbon capture storage technology

"This government has put all its eggs in the carbon capture basket, a very expensive one. [It's a] $1.5 billion project," Broten said.

Citing transparency problems, he explained that "we actually have to get to the bottom of what's going on. For $1.5 billion, the amount Saskatchewan families have put into this, it better work."

When pressed if his party would invest money in SaskPower's boundary dam project if elected to form government next April, he said "We have to get this project working when we've spent $1.5 billion."

When asked to confirm if that was an affirmative answer, he said, "Well it's $1.5 billion. We can't walk away from that. It better work. That's what we've been told. We need the details of it to know what it will actually look like, and the timelines. And the true costs for the matter, when you've sunk that kind of money into it, anything less would be unacceptable." 

Climate change targets for the province

Broten said an expansion of natural gas usage would be possible, especially if carbon capture technology is found to be unsustainable. 

He also thinks there should be "a hard expansion into renewables, with hard concrete targets." That means a "minimum of 50 per cent renewables by 2030." 

The Saskatchewan Party, Broten said, has "used language of up to 50 per cent."

On potential carbon tax similar to what's proposed in Alberta

"I want to see the technology funded here in Saskatchewan for large emitters to actually be used. This is something we supported. It would guarantee dollars stay in the province for investments in innovation and technology," he said. 

Broten said it's not on individual families. "It's for the large emitters. Then it goes into a fund that stays in Saskatchewan, to make sure that we're diversifying and doing the innovation that's required here."


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