Singh, Trudeau attack one another on climate plans as NDP rolls out public transit promise

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh promised an NDP government would double public transit funding in order to meet his promise to electrify all public transit in Canada while using the opportunity to criticize the Liberals for what he says is their "failure" to deal with climate change. 

Trudeau says NDP 'did not even try' to deliver a 'realizable' climate change plan

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters in the Ontario riding of Toronto Centre today that the Liberals have failed on the climate file despite two prominent environmentalists' backing the Liberal climate plan over the NDP's plan. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh promised an NDP government would double funding for public transit in order to meet his promise to electrify all public transit in Canada, using the opportunity of the announcement to criticize the Liberals for what he says is their "failure" to deal with climate change. 

Singh said Canadians need to fight against climate change, but he added that "we will not be able to fight it, though, with another four years of Justin Trudeau, who has been an abysmal failure on the climate crisis," he said. 

"Our plan is to fight this climate crisis like we really want to win it," Singh said.

He announced that his party would double the Canada Community-Building Fund, formerly the Gas Tax Fund, which is providing the provinces with $2.2 billion in transit funding in 2020-21.

Next year, that funding is scheduled to increase to $2.3 billion, before being raised to $2.4 billion in 2023-24, amounts that would double under the NDP plan.

Doubling the fund, he said, "would help us invest in more public transit, electrify the fleets, make it more affordable and accessible for communities to access public transit and make sure that we do our part to reduce our emissions." 

The NDP's climate plan has come under scrutiny in recent days, with Simon Fraser University environmental economist Mark Jaccard saying it would be "largely ineffective" and "unnecessarily costly."  Former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, meanwhile, has endorsed the Liberal climate plan over the Green Party's.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau told reporters in Montreal today that he was surprised that the "NDP has not presented a serious plan" to fight climate change. 

NDP did not even try, says Trudeau

Trudeau said that he expected the NDP to put forward a plan that was ambitious in its targets for emissions reductions, yet was unrealizable but said that the party fell short on even that mark. 

"They didn't even try to step up to meet the challenge of climate change, and for that I think people have real questions for Jagmeet Singh," Trudeau said. 

"They didn't have to be particularly strong on delivery, because nobody expects that from him, but they weren't even trying to be ambitious. Why does Jagmeet Singh not think that the environment actually matters to Canadians and that we need to step up on it." 

Singh dismissed Trudeau's criticism, saying that it does not matter if you have a good plan to fight climate change but you still fail to meet your targets. 

"We had two more years on this mandate, and instead of using those two more years to fight the climate crisis, he didn't," Singh said. "We have the evidence in front of us. Mr Trudeau cannot be believed on fighting the climate crisis."

In 2019, the first year of the federal carbon pricing regimen, commonly called the "carbon tax," Canada produced 730 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, an increase of one megatonne — 0.2 per cent — over 2018.

While the 730 megatonnes of emissions recorded in 2019 is slightly higher than the 723 megatonnes Canada churned out in 2015, the year Trudeau first took office, the Liberals say carbon pricing is still in its early stages and a reduction in emissions will happen in the coming years.

Meanwhile, the Green Party published its election platform Tuesday, promising to cut emissions 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 by closing down the fossil fuel industry in Canada. 


Peter Zimonjic

Senior writer

Peter Zimonjic is a senior writer for CBC News. He has worked as a reporter and columnist in London, England, for the Daily Mail, Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph and in Canada for Sun Media and the Ottawa Citizen. He is the author of Into The Darkness: An Account of 7/7, published by Random House.

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