The leader of Ontario’s provincial Conservatives says his federal cousins need to come up with a clear alternative plan for fighting climate change if they want to remain a viable alternative to the Liberals and NDP.
Patrick Brown, leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party, drew a few raised eyebrows last week when he gave a speech at his party’s convention extolling the virtues of carbon pricing. The statement ran contrary to the federal Conservative stance, which has always been that pricing carbon (or a carbon tax) could do serious damage to Canada’s economy.
“I think right now the federal party is going through a period of reflection,” Brown told The West Block’s Tom Clark.
“My advice to other Conservatives parties is that we have to take climate change seriously. We can’t avoid conversations on the environment.”
Offering an alternative plan to reduce carbon emissions and transition the Canadian economy toward renewable energy is critical, he said. Conservatives can’t just be against the Liberal, NDP or Green Party plans without giving voters another option.
“I would (tell) all those who are seeking the Conservative leadership that building a modern Conservative movement means having a Conservative response to tackling and protecting our environment,” Brown said.
The Conservatives in Ottawa will be picking a new leader in May 2017, with the rules for candidates issued last week by the party. So far only a handful of people have confirmed their interest in running, with several others expected to do so in the next few months.
Brown called the provincial Liberal plan in Ontario to institute a cap-and-trade system on carbon emissions “a $1.9 billion revenue grab” from Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government.
“Rather than bigger government, my response, and the position of our caucus, was that every single cent raised should be returned in tax relief and is based on the principle that polluters pay,” Brown said.
Watch the full interview above.