Saskatoon

NDP to begin rollout of Saskatchewan-made climate plan at convention

Carbon taxes and climate change are top of mind for Saskatchewan NDP politicians and party supporters as they meet in Saskatchewan this week.

Information on how the Opposition plans to fight climate change will roll out 'piece by piece,' says Meili

Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili speaks to reporters at the first day of the party's annual convention. On Saturday, Meili spoke about the party's plan for a loan program to enable people to switch to clean energy options. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

Carbon taxes and climate change will be top of mind for Saskatchewan NDP politicians and party supporters as they gather for their annual convention in Saskatoon this weekend.

Premier Scott Moe and Ryan Meili, leader of the Opposition NDP, battled on Twitter over climate policy and a report issued by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this week.

This weekend, Meili says he will unveil pieces of the Saskatchewan NDP's  plan to deal with climate change in the province.

The plan, he says, is "a pretty aggressive and exciting way to address climate change and increase our ability to do renewable energy in a really novel and exciting way in Saskatchewan."

On Friday, he mentioned renewable energy several times, but wouldn't allude to much else in the plan.

"Piece by piece we'll be elaborating our 'made-in-Saskatchewan' plan, which puts us about equal with the government. It has put out a partial plan with a lot of 'to be determineds'  and a lot of question marks as to what they'll actually do," Meili said at the start of the convention on Friday.

Carbon tax divides

While the Saskatchewan Party and Premier Moe have come out hard against the federal government's carbon tax, the NDP has said it may be willing to work with such a tax, as long as it has Saskatchewan's needs in mind.

"The federal government had good intentions," said Meili, but he hopes for a "more intelligent approach."

Party member Dale Scott agrees with Meili, to a point.

Dale Scott is a longtime NDP supporter, but is attending his first party convention. He says the sale of the STC prompted him to act. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

He's been an NDP member for decades, but this weekend's convention is his first. He was motivated to come by the sale of the Saskatchewan Transportation company, especially.

"My mother-in-law can't get get here from Kamsack, and it was the last straw for me."

His other passion is protecting the environment, which he feels the governing Saskatchewan Party has neglected.

"I want a strong carbon tax. I want it nationally, I want it provincially, I want it worldwide," said Scott.

"There's a growing movement collectively but trying to do it yourself [by] turning off the lights and [adding] insulation just don't seem to be having as big an effect."

'We are the grassroots party'

While others have strong opinions on what should be included in the NDP's climate plan, Saskatchewan Young New Democrats vice-president policy Katelynn Kowalchuk prefers a more collaborative approach.

"I really believe that connecting with communities is the most important thing," she said.

"We are the grassroots party. We're the party speaking to people on their doorsteps. We have to hear solutions and ideas people have on the doorstep that you might not hear at a convention like this — people who might not be as engaged but still have good ideas about what might benefit them and their communities."

Saskatchewan Young New Democrats vice-president Katelynn Kowalchuck believes a carbon tax could work for Saskatchewan, if it's implemented the correct way. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

Kowalchuk says there are opposing views about carbon taxation within the Saskatchewan NDP, but is positive there will be a consensus by the end of the convention.

"Generally, I am in favour. However, there must be more distinctions made on who qualifies, who doesn't qualify, what the returns are for low-income families and those who might be more heavily impacted by the tax."

In addition to climate talk, Meili told reporters that there will be focus on a $15 minimum wage and health care, particularly in the area of mental health.

About the Author

Bridget Yard

Reporter

Bridget Yard is a video journalist based in Saskatoon. She has also worked for CBC in Fredericton and Bathurst, N.B.

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