The Candian Federal Election: An Environmental Vacuum!

On April 12 last, the Canadian party leaders participated in a televized debate.  Apart from some brief passing comments, there were no exchanges on environmental issues. In fact,the environment is not an issue in this election, a reality emphasized by the absence of Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, from this debate.  What a difference from the 2008 election!

So what are the positions taken by our Parties in this election on environment issues?

Conservatives

In summary, nothing striking and nothing of significance. Tougher laws for polluters, and financial support for alternative energies.  Presumably the Conservative’s 2008 election promises stand: reducing Canada’s greenhouse gases by 20 percent below 2006 levels by 2020, and ensuring that 90 percent of Canadian electricity needs are generated through non-emitting sources by 2020.

Liberals

Establish a cap-and-trade system on industry, with a ceiling on the total amount of permissible greenhouse gas emissions.   Emitters below their limit get a credit for the difference that they can trade to emitters who have exceeded their limit.

Enact a $400 million Green Renovation Tax Credit with a goal of retrofitting over 1 million homes by 2017. 

End the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for oil sands investments.

Restore a program for development of renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, tidal and biomass.

NDP

Establish a cap-and-trade system that rewards big polluters who reduce emissions, and punishes those who don’t.

Support a target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as contained in the Climate Accountability Act (2004).

Halt new tar sands development until emissions are capped.

Funds green-collar jobs and home and transport energy retrofit programs.

Green Party of Canada

A very comprehensive platform touching on all significant environmental issues.  The big planks are a new treaty to replace Kyoto, a cap-and-trade system and a revenue neutral carbon tax. 

Bloc Quebecois (taken from the Bloc’s Policy Statement 2008 election)

Fight to enforce the Kyoto Protocol, and establish a true carbon market.

Reduce Canada’s dependence on oil.

Support the development of electric cars.

Eliminate tax breaks for the oil industry.

Conclusion

Serious environmental issues require a “bad news” presentation if they are to have an impact on the voters.  After the experience of 2008, no main line party wishes to emphasize the negative and “turn off” electors.   

David Suzuki recently blamed the Green Party for ghettoizing environmental issues, as its existence allows other parties essentially to ignore the environment.  But if the Green Party in Canada does obtain the political standing that Green Parties enjoy in other countries, there is every reason to think that main line parties cannot maintain such indifference.

Peter Jones

2 thoughts on “The Candian Federal Election: An Environmental Vacuum!”

  1. As the campaign progressed the Liberals and the NDP appeared to have softened their opposition to the tar sands development.

    Liberals

    Oil sands development must become more sustainable as this major resource continues to contribute to Canada’s prosperity.

    NDP

    The most current platform does not make explicit reference to the Alberta tar sands. Still this resource would be subject to the cap-and-trade system the NDP is proposing. As for that system, their platform states:

    “We will put a price on carbon through a cap-and-trade system, which will establish hard emissions limits for Canada’s biggest polluters to ensure companies pay their environmental bills and to create an incentive for emissions reductions.”

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