4 Justin Trudeau Campaign Promises That Could Make Canada a Green Powerhouse
Polls are in and Canadians across the country are expressing surprise at the strong win for the federal Liberal party.
While there’s much ink to be spilled over former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s reign, he’s likely locked in a bathroom now, so we’ll save that for another, less change-y time.
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) October 20, 2015
Canada, you have a new Prime Minister. I would say “go home, you’re drunk.” But don’t, because you’re not. This is actually happening.
But wait, what is actually happening? We have a new majority government. Before the fun gets away with us, let’s do a quick reality check for what the Liberal party and incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been promising all of you on some of our top DeSmog Canada topics: climate, environment, science and transparency.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals on Climate
On the issue of Canada’s climate commitments for the UN climate summit this fall in Paris, the Liberal platform is underdeveloped. On the campaign trail last week, party leader Justin Trudeau told the CBC he would not commit to specific emissions targets.
“Everybody has thrown out numbers and different targets and what they’re going to do and what is going to happen,” Trudeau said.
“What we need is not ambitious political targets. What we need is an ambitious plan to reduce our emissions in the country.”
The federal Conservative party promised to reduce emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2050, a target that has been roundly criticized as weak. Others have pointed out the Conservative plan made no mention of the Alberta tar sands, the fastest growing source of emissions in Canada.
Although the Liberals don’t have a specific plan yet, the party has promised to establish a new climate change framework by February 2016 that includes an eventual phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies. The plan will also include investment in climate resilience, clean technology and low-carbon infrastructure.
The party will also set aside $2 billion for emissions-reducing projects through a new Low Carbon Economy Trust.
Trudeau has also promised to attend climate negotiations in Paris with all of the premiers and to work with the provinces on emissions reduction plans that are location specific.
Importantly, the Liberals have also promised to work with other countries like Mexico and the U.S. in developing shared clean energy plans.
Liberals on Environment
The Liberal party is promising to undo some of the damage done to Canada’s environmental laws and environmental assessment process for projects like pipelines.
The party promises to establish new, credible reviews for proposed development that are comprehensive and consider full and cumulative impacts, including upstream impacts like development in the tar sands and greenhouse gas emissions.
Their revamped review process promises to be evidence-based and allow for more meaningful participation by the public.
Liberal party candidate Jonathan Wilkinson, who took the North Vancouver riding with 56 percent of the vote, has also promised to scrap the current Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline review in favor of a revitalized process.
Trudeau has voiced his support for pipelines, including the Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL pipelines, but has also acknowledged “even though [it is] governments that grant permits, ultimately it’s only communities that grant permission.”
In that light, the party is also promising to engage more respectfully with First Nations during the consultation process. Considering cumulative impacts around the tar sands has been a major issue for local First Nations. On this note, the Liberals have also promised to immediately implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—something that will alter the manner in which First Nations are approached and consulted on major energy projects.
Since 2012, the Conservative party has weakened and eliminated many of Canada’s strongest environmental laws, including the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Act.
The Liberals have promised to review changes to both of these acts, re-instate what was removed from them and possibly increase protections where warranted.
Significantly for British Columbia, the Liberal party has promised a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on the province’s north coast.