Ontario New Democrats gather in Hamilton this weekend to discuss party priorities

Horwath

HAMILTON -- NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is promising that if her party wins Ontario's next election, the province will commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions at standards in line with international targets.

Horwath told party members attending a policy convention in her hometown of Hamilton, Ont., on Saturday that an NDP government would reduce Ontario's emissions by at least 50 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

She said an NDP government would further promise to achieve net-zero emissions in the province by the year 2050, in what she said marks a stark contrast to Premier Doug Ford's approach to climate change.

"Most of us, here in Ontario and around the world, understand the magnitude of the challenge we're facing -- and that we've run out of runway," Horwath said during a keynote speech.

"Yet Doug Ford does not. The climate crisis is not his priority, but it's mine. It's yours."

Horwath laid out the plan -- dubbed the Green New Democratic Deal -- for 1,500 people attending the party's first policy gathering since becoming the province's official Opposition in last year's election.

She said the targets align with the most ambitious aspects of the Paris Agreement, and stressed that as Canada's largest province Ontario has to do its share to fight climate change.

The plan outlines the targets and says it will further develop over the next three years during consultations with party members.

The 27-page policy document provides no costing for the measures it discusses.

The party says it would encourage homeowners and businesses to participate in a building retrofit program to cut emissions.

It would also incorporate some type of carbon pricing, but does not provide details on that system or its cost.

"Market-based responses, like a price on pollution, are part of the solution. But they are not enough to address the scale of the problem we face, and to create the full range of new economic opportunities for Ontarians," the document reads.

The NDP plan also promises "tailored supports" to industry, saying it will help industry transition to the "net-zero economy," but does not spell out what those supports will be.

The party says its plan will also create new jobs for tradespeople, public transit operators, engineers and scientists.

"We will ensure that every Ontarian has the opportunity to train for and succeed in the jobs we'll be creating," Horwath said.

Delegates at the Hamilton convention are expected to vote on whether or not to hold a formal review of Horwath's leadership, a poll that takes place at every party policy convention.

Horwath, who led the party last year to its largest seat count since the 1990s, is expected to easily survive the vote.

Horwath, who has been at the party helm since 2009, recently said she has no concerns about this weekend's leadership review vote.

"I'm excited about the future," said the 56-year-old. "We're very motivated. We're very excited about our fantastic caucus and I'm excited about the convention."

Horwath has seen three elections as party leader and has given no indication she plans to step down before the next vote in 2022.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is expected to make an announcement at the convention on Sunday.