NDP leadership hopefuls squaring off in Saskatchewan, a province opposed to carbon tax


Climate change will likely emerge as a key component of the latest NDP leadership debate as the candidates square off in Saskatchewan, a province where the government is in a fight with Ottawa over carbon pricing.

The four candidates vying to replace Thomas Mulcair as the next leader of the federal New Democrats are in Saskatoon for the fifth of eight scheduled debates.

READ MORE: Tom Mulcair: ‘I’d love to become a Stephen Lewis-esque figure’

It is the only debate scheduled for the Prairies in advance of the party’s October leadership vote and NDP officials have said they expect candidates to be asked a number of questions of regional interest.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has been a vocal opponent of the federal Liberal government’s plan to put a price on carbon emissions, vowing to take Ottawa to court should the province be forced to adopt the plan.

READ MORE: Sask. premier describes federal carbon tax plan as a ‘ransom note’

Ontario NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh has called for more ambitious carbon emission targets than the Liberals have put forward to date.

One of his three opponents, northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus, has argued for adopting a legislated carbon budget to reduce emissions.

Manitoba MP Niki Ashton and Quebec’s Guy Caron have both forcefully opposed the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal to carry oil from Alberta to British Columbia, but have yet to unveil their climate plans.

READ MORE: Niki Ashton’s pregnancy renews calls for better parental supports on Parliament Hill

Regina New Democrat MP Erin Weir, who has voiced support for the Alberta NDP government’s income-tested rebate scheme to go along with that province’s carbon tax, says all four candidates need to explain how they would help make carbon pricing work for Saskatchewan.

“Emulating this progressive approach would make carbon pricing more palatable in Saskatchewan and other provinces,” Weir said in a statement emailed in advance of Tuesday’s debate.

“The federal government, which will collect GST from carbon pricing, (should) provide a direct transfer to lower-income Canadians to help offset carbon costs.”

Ottawa could encourage companies to stay put in Canada by taxing the carbon content of imports while rebating any tax on the carbon content of exports, he added.

Each of the candidates taking part in the debate will be given one minute for opening statements, followed by 60-second answers to questions submitted by Canadians through the NDP website.

There’s also debate of those answers and at least two opportunities for candidates to ask a question of each other.

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