Will Amos

Your member of parliament for


Will Amos

Your member of parliament for



Open Letter to Andrew Scheer: Do the Conservatives deny federal jurisdiction to price pollution and tackle climate change?

Dear Mr. Scheer,

Knowing what we do about the science of global warming and the urgent need to act, any serious political party should have a plan to fight climate change. It is sheer irresponsibility to suggest otherwise.

As you know, the Liberal government is putting a price on carbon pollution. We’re doing this as part of our plan to tackle climate change, to create jobs, grow our clean economy and improve the lives of Canadians.

Mr. Scheer, your party has no climate plan. Indeed, it has now been over 200 days since you promised to present a plan of your own to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. A decade has passed since Stephen Harper said he would “establish a market price for carbon” in his 2008 Turning the Corner plan – a promise he broke. You sat in the House of Commons then, as a Conservative, and supported that plan. I respectfully ask: what caused you to change your mind?

More recently, you have followed the lead of provincial Conservatives, Doug Ford and Jason Kenney, presenting yourselves as a so-called “resistance” to climate action. You do this as Mr. Ford cuts environmental programs and wastes $30 million of taxpayer money to fight pollution pricing in court.

Seriously? Stop being soft on climate. Canadians across the country expect their leaders to protect their health, their nature and their future. Your actions are irresponsible.

As forests burn, homes flood, insurance rates rise, severe droughts damage crops, and people die from extreme heat, Canadians are rightly skeptical of a partisan “resistance” that flies in the face of science. Indeed, this simply lays bare your party’s ill-concealed climate change denialism.

Mr. Scheer, I ask you this: Do you believe that the federal government has no jurisdiction to price the pollution causing climate change, that it falls solely within the constitutional purview of the provinces? Do you support the polluter-pays principle, affirmed repeatedly by the Supreme Court of Canada, and now entrenched in Canadian law and values?

The federal authority to price pollution is constitutionally grounded in the fact that climate change is an urgent matter of national concern, and that pollution has no borders. It requires coordinated action across many sectors and regions in Canada.

That’s why the Liberal government is phasing out coal-fired power, ramping up clean energy, investing massively in public transit and energy efficiency, strengthening fuel standards, and doubling the amount of nature protected in Canada.

These measures complement an approach to pricing pollution that ensures fairness and a level playing field across Canada. All provinces are treated fairly, with pollution pricing revenues returned to them.

The truth is that most Canadians, including many Conservatives, know that polluting is not free. Pricing was part of Brian Mulroney’s approach to fighting acid rain, as you will recall.

If you truly do not believe the federal government has the authority to curb pollution and protect our environment, Canadians deserve to know. If you truly believe the federal government should serve as a mere “head waiter to the provinces” when it comes to fighting climate change, then surely Canadians deserve to know this too.

So, respectfully Mr. Scheer, where is your climate plan? Stop hiding behind your provincial Conservative premiers. Why not come clean with your plan and tell Canadians how the constitution, federal jurisdiction, and the law of polluter pays fit into it? Surely your own plan is preferable to taking marching orders from provincial leaders, adopting their weak constitutional positions, and frightening Canadians about a pricing policy you once endorsed.

If you cannot or will not do this, then perhaps you could tone down the rhetoric. We Liberals are heeding the warnings of the recently-released IPCC report and getting on with the job of protecting the environment for our kids and our grandkids, while putting money back into Canadians’ pockets.

William Amos
Member of Parliament for Pontiac