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O’Toole says he’ll work with provinces on ‘their approaches’ to reducing carbon emissions

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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole appears to be keeping the door open to the possibility of provinces and territories keeping the Liberal carbon tax if his party forms a government.

O’Toole said Wednesday that he’ll work with provinces on “their approaches” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet Canada’s Paris Agreement targets.

The remarks were made in response to a question about comments O’Toole made during an interview with the Toronto Star where he said the Conservative carbon pricing scheme would be an “alternative” to the current price on carbon.

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O’Toole also told The Star that provinces where the carbon tax currently applies, such as Ontario, would get to decide if they either switch to the Conservatives’ plan or keep the existing tax.

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“We have said we will work with the provinces on their approaches to meet our Paris commitments. And we put forward a very innovative approach to pricing carbon that we’ve modelled to meet our objectives,” O’Toole said Wednesday during a campaign stop in Quebec.

“What we need after six years of Mr. Trudeau is less fighting, less misleading statements by the prime minister on subjects and actual real action.”

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O’Toole has repeatedly pledged that a Conservative government would “meet” Canada’s Paris Agreement target for greenhouse gas reductions.

But this pledge is misleading because O’Toole has also said the target he intends to meet is a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with 2005 levels by 2030. This was Canada’s original target under the Paris Agreement, but that changed earlier this year when the Liberal government set a new target of 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels.

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Canada’s current target under the Paris Agreement was announced in April and formalized with the United Nations in July.

“The contrast (between the Liberals and Conservatives) is clear, with Mr. O’Toole who wants to go back to Mr. Harper’s targets, even though we’ve already set more ambitious targets within the Paris Agreement,” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Wednesday at a campaign stop in Halifax.

Liberal candidate Jonathan Wilkinson, who’s also Canada’s current environment minister, released a statement Wednesday criticizing the Conservatives’ carbon pricing scheme, saying it lacks details and provides no clear information on when it will be implemented or how much it will cost to impose.

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Wilkinson also criticized the Conservatives’ platform, which pledges that a personal carbon savings account that functions similarly to a reward points system, “may be managed by a consortium of companies” without providing any details about these companies.

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“It is incumbent on Mr. O’Toole to explain to climate concerned voters if and how this policy would really work,” Wilkinson said in the statement.

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The Conservatives announced their climate change plan in April and included many of these details in their 2021 election platform.

The Conservative plan includes a price on carbon that would be capped at $50 a ton, which is significantly less than the $170 per ton that the Liberal carbon tax will max out at.

O’Toole has said his carbon pricing scheme is “not a tax” because none of the revenue collected would go to the federal government. Instead, it would be kept in individual carbon savings accounts, which people can then use to purchase items for a “greener” life.

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