Flanked by provincial MLAs and federal candidates in downtown Winnipeg Tuesday morning, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh promised to attack climate change in a major way, and to electrify public transit by 2030.
"This is a crisis of epic proportions," Singh told a crowd at the University of Winnipeg's Leatherdale Hall.
He saluted teen climate-change activist Greta Thunberg and her speech Monday scolding world leaders at the United Nations in New York.
"She said very powerfully, 'How dare you? How dare you take no action in the face of climate crisis? How dare you ignore the millions of young people going in the streets demanding, begging their leaders to take action?'" said Singh.
"They see the impacts of extreme weather — the flooding and forest fires we see here in Manitoba."
An NDP government, he promised, would take action. It would invest $15 billion in a climate action plan for things such as electrifying public buses and building an east-to-west "clean energy corridor," an electric power transmission line across Canada.
"We have to do it, we can't afford not to," said Singh, who pledged to end subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry.
When asked how the NDP would fund the plan, Singh said the Liberal government has given billions of dollars in subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry and has spent billions to purchase a pipeline. The climate action plan will see investments in clean energy, such as shifting to electric transit buses by 2030, a move that would create jobs at Winnipeg's New Flyer Industries, among others.
An NDP government would work closely with municipalities on such projects, said Singh who didn't have the details of how such a funding arrangement would work.
"We have a moral and legal obligation to address the crisis," he said, berating Justin Trudeau's Liberal government for paying lip service to climate change with "pretty words and empty promises." He said the Trudeau government is beholden to the petroleum industry and corporate interests, and met with lobbyists 1,500 times during the last two years.
An NDP government would put the public's best interests first, Singh vowed, adding the party would ensure Indigenous communities "have a seat at the table."
"We have the courage to take on people at the top... we are fighting for you," he said standing next to Leah Gazan, the NDP candidate trying to unseat Liberal incumbent Robert-Falcon Ouellette in Winnipeg Centre.
She said people in the riding — the third poorest in Canada — haven't benefited from a Liberal government.
"Over the past four years, things are getting worse," said Gazan, an educator and former president of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, who lives in the riding and is a member of Wood Mountain Lakota Nation, located in Saskatchewan, Treaty 4 territory.
People are struggling to pay their rent and cover the cost of food and life-saving prescriptions, she said.
"I'm knocking on thousands of doors. I'm going to places where there's 20 people living in a house," she said. "This is appalling, considering this current federal government... is spending $25 billion bailing out big corporations. That money needs to be invested in fighting climate change and helping the good people of Winnipeg Centre."
After the U of W announcement, Singh went to shake hands with people at The Forks.
He is the fourth leader of a federal party to campaign in Manitoba. Only People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier has not yet visited the province since the election was called.
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.
Updated on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 2:48 PM CDT: Writethru