Premiers push Ottawa for lead on local climate change strategy

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Premier Bob McLeod called for each province and territory’s its own climate change strategy in a joint statement with the country’s premiers Thursday.

“Climate change is a global threat, with immediate and long-lasting, tangible impacts on the natural environment, public health and safety, as well as on infrastructure and the economy,” they stated. The comments were released on the second day of the Council of the Federation, a meeting of premiers in Saskatoon.

“Some of the changes are so significant we see it as an important job for us to educate people in the south that their actions are having a big effect on us,” McLeod said told reporters Thursday.

The premiers also said their jurisdictions required “Full credit” for reduction of emissions, and federal funding to support climate change strategies as wildfires and floods become more common.

The premiers also took aim at “the limited scope of current federal programs meant to address climate change, adaptation measures and disaster mitigation efforts.” In their statement, they pushed for “adequate, flexible, timely, streamlined” access to federal funding.

McLeod and the premiers’ comments on developing local strategies echo Saskatchewan’s Supreme Court case against the carbon tax, which holds that Ottawa was overstepping with its mandatory implementation.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, McLeod said the North accounts for a “minimal” part of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, but feels the effects on daily basis. “The rest of the world and southern Canada has to do more,” he said.

Also addressing Arctic sovereignty, McLeod called for a 10-year economic action plan to strengthen northern prosperity with the other northern premiers, adding he hopes to spur transportation through the Arctic as an alternative shipping route.

“As an Indigenous person and a Northerner I believe that Canada needs its own nation-building plan for strengthening the Arctic so it does not just maintain but increases its role and influence in this important part of the world,” he said in a press conference Thursday.

“A strong North makes for a strong Canada,” McLeod said, calling on Canada to leverage the geography of the territories, increase its presence in the Arctic and build knowledge of the region.