HAMILTON – Taking aim at climate change, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has unveiled a “Green New Democratic Deal” to make Ontario net-zero on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Her discussion paper sets ambitious goals, such as halving emissions by the end of the next decade with rebates and interest-free loans to homeowners doing retrofits to reduce their carbon dioxide output, spurring the green economy and creating a million jobs in the process.
“The world’s leading climate scientists are telling us that climate change is moving faster than expected,” Horwath said in a speech prepared for the party’s weekend convention where she faces a leadership review vote.
“We are feeling the pain of the climate crisis right now. Brutal heat waves, intense wildfires, floodwaters threatening entire communities, tornadoes tearing through neighbourhoods, and hundreds of local species now extinct.”
The leadership review vote comes a year after Horwath led the NDP to its best showing since the Bob Rae government of the early 1990s, winning 40 seats in last June’s election.
That vaulted New Democrats into second place in the legislature as the official opposition to Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives amid a collapse in support for the Liberals.
Horwath’s plan also promises “the largest building retrofit program in the world” if New Democrats manage to win the next provincial election three years from now.
But there is no costing of the massive program and there are few details on how it would be implemented.
The 28-page discussion paper borrows the name of the rival Green Party, led by Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner – who has been gaining in recent public opinion polls which show disenchanted Ford voters moving to his party and the Liberals, not the NDP.
Ford cancelled the previous Liberal government’s carbon cap-and-trade program, which Horwath has repeatedly slammed as a “backward” move.
Horwath, who has been the party’s leader since 2009 and through three provincial elections, urged party members at the downtown Hamilton convention to redouble their efforts to grow the party in hopes of taking power in 2022 with Ford now sliding in the polls in the wake of budget cuts.
“The official opposition is parents whose children. It’s students. It’s student unions. It’s working people and the great unions of this province,” Horwath added.
“It’s everyone who is under attack by this government. We are all the official opposition. We are the resistance.”
Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robferguson1