Manitoba’s NDP party committed May 31 to reducing the province’s carbon emissions by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and to make Manitoba carbon neutral 20 years after that, but leader Wab Kinew says that doesn’t bode ill for the mining industry.
The NDP’s carbon emission targets are based on the levels established by the Paris Climate Accord.
“It’s important that we take action on global warming in a way that’s still going to allow the Northern Manitoba economy to prosper,” said Kinew. “As part of our climate plan, the choice we’re going to make is we’re going to say yes to mining but we’re going to say no to oil and gas subsidies.”
The NDP leader says mining is the only way to get minerals like lithium for batteries or copper and gold for circuitry that can contribute to a more sustainable economic future.
“We know that Manitoba miners can produce those things in a way that’s better for the environment and has better labour standards than pretty much anywhere else in the world so that’s why we feel that we should encourage that industry here,” said Kinew.
To help ensure the mining industry and mining communities prosper, Kinew said the NDP has plans to use the province’s Mining Community Reserve Fund.
“A big priority for us is to access that money as one of the tools we can use to keep people working and keep the mining industry strong,” said Kinew. “[Premier Brian] Pallister’s government has not used that fund in a way that northern communities, including Thompson, have been asking.”
Reducing carbon emissions will not be painless.
“I think the challenge comes is when people feel like they’re going to be worse off and what I want to do in talking about climate change is be straight up with people and know that we are going to have to make certain choices,” Kinew said. “We are going to have to make tough choices but I think we can make choices that are going to keep the north strong and are going to benefit everybody as we move to a more sustainable future.”
In addition to ending subsidies for the oil and gas industry, the NDP climate plan also proposes transitioning Manitoba Hydro into a renewable energy company that expands broadband, reduces emissions from home heating and makes use of geothermal energy.
The NDP leader says that he expects a provincial election campaign to begin later this year and that the NDP will be ready when it does.
“Some of the challenges that have happened around the Northern Patient Transportation Program and some of the other cuts to services in the north that are making it harder for people to access health care, those are going to be really important priorities for us,” Kinew said. “We’ll be ready to contest this election whenever the premier wants to call it and we intend to campaign on jobs and health care.”