This election is critical as climate change is spiraling out of control. If we don't take immediate action to end fossil fuels scientists warn we are facing climate, ecological, and social collapse.
Everything we know and love is at risk.
I'm having a tough time deciding who to vote for, so I thought I'd share a few of the things that I'm thinking about as I make my decision.
Know what you're voting for
Take the time to read the different party platforms and their climate action plans.
Or watch the Federal Leaders Debate 2021. It's important to recognize the differences between Federal and Provincial parties.
Voting for the party versus the candidate
How much influence can a single MP have? Can individual MPs stand up to Party Leaders, work across party lines, and advocate for the transformative climate action we need to see? Or will they be whipped to vote with the party or risk being kicked out? How much influence can a single MP have in committee meetings, which is where a lot of the work of government occurs?
Ask your candidates if they will confront the climate emergency. If they're not willing to end fossil fuel extraction, they're not serious about climate action. Make sure you check out the candidate pages, and watch local candidates debates.
Voting strategically versus voting for your values
If you don't vote for what you want you'll never get it.
That said, because the Liberals failed to deliver on proportional representation, many of us may feel like we have to vote strategically. But when your options are bad or less bad, maybe it's time to vote for the party that best represents your values.
Holding politicians accountable
Elections are your only opportunity to hold politicians accountable. Did they deliver on past election promises? What policies have they passed while they were in power? Elections are the one time when your voice matters. Every party is paying close attention to how you vote, and what policies matter to you.
So let's evaluate the actions of the Trudeau government over the last six years from a climate perspective:
- Continued support for oil and gas means that greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise. Canada’s current policies are in line with a catastrophic 4°C of warming.
- In 2018, the Trudeau government bought the Transmountain pipeline which is likely to become a stranded asset costing Canadians up to $18.5 billion. The pipeline could still be operational in 2060, which is inconsistent with Liberal promises of net zero by 2050.
- Increased fossil fuel subsidies to $1.9 billion in 2020. Fossil fuel subsidies are now higher under Trudeau than they were under Harper.
- The latest IPCC report is a “code red for humanity” yet Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan responded that oil and gas is "the biggest part of our national economy" while Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said we need a pipeline to pay for climate action. This is a form of climate change denial.
- There has been some progress, by introducing a price on carbon, regulating methane emissions, commitments to reduction targets of 40-45% by 2030, adoption of five-year targets, but these efforts are consistently undermined by the Liberals continued support for oil and gas.
How do the parties measure up on climate action?
Climate change is the top issue for BC voters. So how do the parties stack up? Here's my personal take, from worst to best:
People's Party of Canada
The PPC is firmly entrenched in a culture of climate change denial, misinformation, and conspiracy theories with zero credibility. The party would withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, abandon carbon pricing, and eliminate subsidies for green technology. The only nice thing I can say about the PPC is that they are splitting off votes from the Conservatives.
"The Cons" climate plan will do little to "Secure the Future" as their campaign slogan promises. Instead, a vote for Conservatives is a vote to increase fracking, build the TMX pipeline, revitalize the Northern Gateway pipeline, eliminate the tanker ban, increase fossil fuel subsidies, and continue business as usual. Unfortunately, business as usual means more greenhouse gas emissions, which threatens the safety and security of life on this planet. Earlier this year, Conservative delegates voted to reject adding "climate change is real" to the policy book. This is climate change denial.
The Liberals climate plan is decent, but 40-45% reduction by 2030 is not enough. Promises of climate action are undermined by continued support for the TMX pipeline, blue hydrogen (which relies on fracked gas), and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies. The Liberals have only pledged to eliminate "inefficient" subsidies which allows for massive loopholes in how they define "inefficient." The Liberals are also promising massive investments in carbon capture and storage - an unproven technology to greenwash oil and gas extraction, which is yet another fossil fuel subsidy. Doubling down on oil and gas extraction while promising climate action is a form of climate change denial.
The NDP's emissions reduction targets of 50% by 2030 and net zero by 2050 are stronger than the Liberals, and they have pledged to end fossil fuel subsidies. While the NDP have pledged to review TMX, they have not committed to cancelling the pipeline. The big question is whether the Federal NDP will stand up to the Provincial NDP in BC and AB that continue to support oil and gas extraction, including fracking and LNG.
The Green Party's climate action plan is the most ambitious of any party, and the most in line with what the science demands, with climate targets aligned with science, a pledge to ban fracking, stop all fossil fuel expansion, phase out fossil fuel extraction, and end fossil fuel subsidies.
For the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding, watch the local candidates debate on environment and climate.
Climate Alliance has assessed the party platforms and what they mean.
"Battling climate change in Canada: Experts examine the major parties' climate plans" via CBC
Glacier Media has evaluated party platforms here.
"Canada's political parties cannot 'greenwash' their way through another election"
Review of Liberal climate action plan here.
350 Canada and Climate Alliance have endorsed a list of climate champions that are committed to work across party lines for real climate action.
Ways to vote
- Vote by mail
IMPORTANT! You must mail your ballot ASAP so it arrives by September 20th! You can also drop off your completed ballot at your local Elections Canada office anytime before the polls close (6 PM) on election day, or at any polling place in your riding on election day. LEARN MORE
- Vote on election day, September 20th
For this election, it is critical that we elect MPs that will work across party lines and commit to real climate action. The most important thing you can do is vote.
Executive Director, My Sea to Sky
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