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.
Canadian broadcaster CBC projects a new Liberal government with Justin Trudeau as PM. LIVE: https://t.co/J09k5rcQwM https://t.co/GScmE4vTrC— BBC Breaking News (@BBC Breaking News)1445305940.0
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.
Liberals on Science
The Liberal party has taken a strong stance on the war on science in Canada, promising to free scientists to speak publicly about their work.
Trudeau has also promised to instate a Parliamentary Science Officer to ensure transparency, expertise and independence of federal scientists. This position will mirror that of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
In addition to unmuzzling scientists, the party also wants to work collaboratively with the provinces, First Nations and other stakeholders when it comes to ocean management.
Busy morning? Here's what you need to know to start your day. https://t.co/7Jv5b3dAmq https://t.co/865vM1rCug— The New York Times (@The New York Times)1445343010.0
This is significant in light of the Conservative government’s defunding of numerous marine science programs, including the only research being conducted into the effects of industrial pollutants on marine mammals. The Liberal party has promised to reinstate $40 million of funding for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The Liberals plan on incorporating more science into federal environmental assessments, including the consideration of climate change and environmental impacts of tar sands development on pipeline projects. Under the Conservatives, both emissions and environmental impacts of tar sands were considered "outside the relevant scope" of pipeline reviews.
The federal Conservatives also fought against First Nations and conservation groups regarding the Species at Risk Act and its implication for major projects like tar sands mines or pipelines.
The Liberal party has promised to respond more quickly and more scientifically to the issue of at-risk species. This means species will be listed faster and mandatory timelines will be put in place for species once they are listed as at-risk.
A new version of the Species at Risk Act is already on the Liberal’s environmental plan.
Liberals on Transparency
When it comes to dealing with media, Trudeau has promised to have a much more open and transparent relationship with journalists.
Through its Transparency Act, the party has promised to make access to information much easier for Canadians, including making all government documents freely available online.
The Access to Information Act will be amended to make information "Open by Default," that is, more easily available to the public, on quicker timelines and for less money.
Current requests under the act cost $5 per request but may be subject to additional fees if the request is large or requires a lot of time. The amended act will limit the possible fee to the initial $5 charge.
In addition, the act will be reviewed every five years and expanded to include the Prime Minister’s Office, which is usually exempt from disclosure rules.
Trudeau has also promised to repeal certain elements of the Conservative’s controversial anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51.
Former Prime Ministers, national editorial boards, tech experts, legal scholars, civil society organizations, democracy watchdogs and droves of citizens opposed the bill, saying it undermined the democratic rights of Canadians.
Many were outraged at the Liberals’ decision to support it.
Trudeau has promised to “take a constructive approach to improving the bill,” including instituting greater oversight of Canada’s national security agencies and establishing an “all-party committee of Parliamentarians, to provide oversight of various agencies, including CSIS, CSE, the RCMP and DND.”
No matter what, Canadians are in for a real shake-up under this new leadership. Reuters is reporting Justin Trudeau will bring “glamour, youth and charisma” to Ottawa in the dawning of this new age. I'll reserve that kind of cheer for another moment. For now, I'll just say the Liberal party certainly has their work cut out for them.
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Rehabilitators at The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys assess critically endangered, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles flown in after rescue in New England. The Turtle Hospital<p>NEAQ and local rescuers begin seeing turtles every fall when water temperatures drop to that 50 degrees F threshold, and typically expect to find them into early January. After that, <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/sea-turtle-cape-cod-weather-2621527394.html" target="_self">temperatures are so cold that any animals found are usually no longer alive</a>.</p><p>Merigo estimated that this year's cold season "looks very busy" and noted that local rescue efforts had already surpassed 400 turtles.</p><p>"It is a lot of animals. They're still coming in," she told EcoWatch as she surveyed 39 rescued turtles that day and 20 the day prior. "So far, this is a huge year."</p><p>At NEAQ, the turtles are gradually warmed up about five to 10 degrees F a day. More aggressive warming can cause serious damage and the turtle might not survive, Merigo said. Emergency treatments also include providing replacement fluids, balancing electrolytes and addressing pneumonia. Assessments take place for other serious problems too, such as shell or limb fractures, frostbite, emaciation and eye damage.<span></span></p><p>As local aquariums don't have the capacity to care for all the injured turtles, a group of private pilots called <a href="https://www.turtlesflytoo.org/" target="_blank">"Turtles Fly Too"</a> donated planes, fuel and time to transport some to various partner facilities around the country. Other turtles were driven to closer care facilities.</p><p>"We have a huge network of really great partners working with us, so if we can spread out the care, we can give better care to all the animals," Merigo said.</p><p>The 40 Kemp's ridley sea turtles recovering in The Turtle Hospital will continue to be treated and rehabilitated anywhere from 30 days to a year, depending on the severity of injuries, Zirkelbach said.</p><p>The turtle expert noted that while she's treated cold-stunned turtles from the north before, the newest arrivals were the most cold-stunned Kemp's ridleys ever received at one time.</p>
After rescue, cold-stunned sea turtles received immediate emergency care and assessments at the New England Aquarium. Caitlin Cunningham / New England Aquarium<p>In the past decade, the Gulf of Maine, which spans from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, has warmed 99 percent faster than the rest of the ocean, Zirkelbach said. The warm water encourages turtles that migrate north along the Gulf Stream in warmer months to stay in the bay longer.</p><p>"Turtles that fail to migrate south get stuck in the unique horseshoe-shaped topography of the Cape Cod peninsula, and when temperatures drop, the bay becomes a death trap," she added.</p><p>Before ocean temperatures warmed, the waters of Maine were too cold for many of these sea turtles, Merigo echoed. Now, with warming sea surface temperatures, Maine can reach the high 70s to low 80s, which is "perfect turtle temperature," she said. The potential for more turtles getting trapped in the bay and then cold-stunned is nerve-racking for Merigo.</p><p>In addition to shifting habitats as waters warm, warming global temperatures also disrupt natural gender balance in sea turtles, Merigo warned. Gender is determined by the temperature of eggs in nests, and as the planet warms, it will result in all females at some point, she said.</p><p>"The turtles we work with are all endangered and threatened," Merigo said. "For sea turtles in general, the future is a little grim. Climate change is real; it does impact them."</p>
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