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This article was published 26/8/2019 (458 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If elected next month, the NDP would give each Manitoba household an annual $350 rebate on its energy bills — in the hope it is spent to reduce its carbon footprint.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew said Monday it is part of his party’s plan to use a carrot instead of a stick to help Manitobans pay for energy-efficient items such as vehicles and windows for their homes.
Kinew said many Manitobans want the government to do something about climate change, but many are also worried how much it will cost them.
"They’re not just worried about the end of the world, they're also worried about the end of the month," he said.
Kinew said the plan, which is subject to negotiations with the federal government, would have the NDP use the revenue from the $20 per tonne carbon tax to pay for the hydro rebate, while not raising the carbon tax during its first term so the plan can be evaluated.
He said the NDP plan would also include shifting Manitoba Hydro into an energy renewable company, using the dollars spent in the past for building dams instead on renewable energy sources (such as solar and wind).
Kinew said, over time, he hopes the overall plan would help encourage Manitobans to reduce their individual carbon footprints.
"Up until now, approaches to carbon pricing has been to put a price on pollution," Kinew said.
"Our new plan... not only puts a price on pollution, but we use those resources to turn around and to make the clean, safe, healthy alternative of electricity cheaper. And we know when we do this, we will make it easier and cheaper for the average family out there to make the switch to an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
"This is a big deal."
Green Leader James Beddome criticized the NDP plan, saying if it doesn't tie the $350 rebate to energy-reduction incentives, it could instead be spent on things which may increase a carbon footprint.
"You're encouraging people to waste energy," Beddome said, adding he also doesn't know how Kinew will be able to convince the federal government to keep the carbon tax at $20 per tonne when the Pallister government was unable to negotiate a flat $25-per-tonne tax on carbon emissions.
"It really shows a complete lack of understanding of environment and climate change issues."
Tory candidate Rochelle Squires (Riel) accused the NDP of changing its position on the issue of carbon taxes and Scott Fielding (Kirkfield Park) said the $350 rebate would cost Manitoba taxpayers more than $171 million a year (based on 2016 Statistics Canada figures showing 489,050 private dwellings in the province).
Squires said Kinew promised in May to cut carbon emissions by 45 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030, which would be the equivalent of $500 per tonne.
"He has become 'Waffling Wab,' making it up as he goes along," she said.
Fielding added: "The only thing green the NDP care about is the green in everyones' wallets. "They're using Hydro as an ATM."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.