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NDP leader Singh wants ‘bolder’ legislation to tackle climate change

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq talk about climate change at the Qajuqturvik Food Centre in Iqaluit. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh announced he will be introducing a bill to the House of Commons to confront climate change during his visit to Iqaluit, Dec. 1. His announcement comes as the United Nations 25th climate conference is set to convene.

The legislation, which is inspired by Jack Layton’s 2008 bill (the Climate Change Accountability Act), will have “bolder” and “more ambitious” targets to reduce emissions, he said. The targets will be based on science but will also be enforceable.

“This bill will put in place science-based targets accountability to reach those targets to make sure that fighting the climate crisis is a part of the law,” said Singh.

He said he hopes to end fossil fuel subsidies and reinvest into clean and renewable energy, which needs to be both viable and sustainable in the North.

With this bill, Singh said his party aims to create “good” jobs and opportunities in Northern communities and make life more affordable for Nunavummiut.

Singh stated that he wants to retrofit homes and make them more energy-efficient. If homes use less energy, families would be able to save money, explained the NDP leader.

“With all the homes that we see, we’re going to build new infrastructure that should be energy-efficient and should reduce emissions.”

Furthermore, the retrofitting of homes and buildings would lead to creating local job opportunities, said Singh.

He also emphasized the importance of investing in zero-emission vehicles.

“The prime minister needs to commit to tough new emissions reductions targets for 2030 and stop the giveaways to his friends in the fossil fuel sector,” said Singh.

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who joined Singh at the press conference, spoke briefly about the impact climate change is having on the North and the need to address it.

“We’re seeing our seasons changing. That’s affecting our animals,” said Qaqqaq.

She referred to animal migration, hunting grounds and health of animals as examples.

The NDP only holds 24 seats in the House of Commons, including Qaqqaq’s, which she won during October’s general election. But they do hold the balance of power with the minority government Liberals, who have long been proponents of tougher climate change measures and need the NDP’s support to pass legislation.

Singh and Qaqqaq serve food to the public at Qajuqturvik Food Centre, Dec, 1. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

The 20-minute press conference, held at the Qajuqturvik Food Centre around noon, was followed by both Singh and Qaqqaq serving some food to the public at the soup kitchen.

CBC Ottawa was the only non-local media to attend the event. And although the announcement was open to the public, fewer than 10 people showed up, including city councillor Joanasie Akumalik.

Qaqqaq, who arrived in Iqaluit on Nov. 27, was joined by Singh on Nov. 29.

On that day, the two politicians visited officials with the Government of Nunavut, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Singh took the opportunity to discuss his plans for tackling fossil fuel subsidies and introducing legislation with binding emissions reductions targets, according to a press release.

“We need to listen not just to scientists, but also to the people of the North for solutions. The people who live here – who have lived here for generations ­– know this land and the consequences of climate change better than anyone,” said Singh.

On Nov. 30, both Singh and Qaqqaq spent the day meeting and greeting supporters at different venues. They visited the Black Heart Cafe, Inukshuk High School for the Christmas Arts and Craft Fair and attended a game at the Arctic Winter Games Arena.

Marlene Watson designed the parkas for both Singh and Qaqqaq. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

The public had an opportunity to take photos with the NDP members dressed in their orange and grey seal skin customized parkas.

On the back of the parka it reads, “in it for you” in Inuktitut. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

Marlene Watson, who has been making parkas since the age of 15, designed the parkas for both Singh and Qaqqaq.

On the back of each parka in Inuktitut it says, “In it for you.”

Singh said he plans on wearing his parka in Ottawa.

After the visit at the Qajuqturvik Food Centre, Singh departed for Ottawa. Qaqqaq, who is still in Iqaluit, will be in Ottawa on Dec. 4 for a sitting of the House of Commons.

Singh said he plans to visit Nunavut again but did not provide a date.