Canada Votes 2019

By: Gavin Pitchford

We believe the emerging low carbon economy presents tremendous economic opportunities for Canada, as we address the climate challenge. The Green, Liberal and NDP climate action plans clearly reflect that reality.

18-25 year olds will make up the largest voting block for the first time in Canadian history. Many are demanding transformative economic and environmental action, and we stand with them.

As many members of the Clean50 did last April, we again urge Canadians to make climate action the single most important issue in this and every other election, at all levels of government.

Canada’s Clean50 Statement of October 10th, 2019, publicly endorsed by 120 members of the Clean50

The Canada’s Clean50 scoured the internet and new media as well as the 4 parties’ official sites for all the climate policy information we could find, and then categorized each policy plank under matching headings.  The climate action commitments of the Greens, Liberals, NDP and Conservatives are available here for downloading – empty boxes mean no policies…

120 sustainability experts and advocates met at the Clean50 Summit on October 3rd. 24 were banned by their organizations from any public discussion of political matters, and the remaining 96 took part in the assessment of the 4 platforms. 

In the morning, 48 Delegates across four simultaneous discussions first developed the “ideal” climate action strategies: what those plans should include, and then each group independently created a framework against which they would measure the policies of all four parties.  Each framework was different – with different levels of importance (and thus available points) afforded to areas such as policies to reduce transportation emissions, increase building efficiency, encouragement for the Canadian clean tech sector, international engagement, policies to encourage fossil fuel use reduction, etc. 

Not one of the groups considered a carbon tax to be a “must have” although absent a carbon tax, the frameworks would require significant other policies to replace the lack of a price on pollution.

In the afternoon, a second group of 48 spread evenly across 4 working groups took on the assessment of the different party policies against the ideal their earlier group had prescribed.  Each of the 4 groups assigned 3 people to assess 1 of the four party policy documents against the framework.  Each group then came back together to defend their marking and rankings to the entire group.

In the end, despite the four different frame works, the results, comments and rankings were pretty consistent.

Not one of the plans put forward scored an “A”.  It was clear to all that all that to meet the Paris accord, Canadians need to do more.  We are the highest per-capita emitters of GHGs in the G7 and second in the G20.  While many talk about India and China as the “problem”, on average, each Canadian emits 3 times more GHGs than the average person in China and six times more GHGs than the average person in India.  Asking either country to scale back their citizen’s emissions when we are three to six times worse is never ever going to work!

In the end, the Green Party platform was viewed as the most ambitious by the 3 of the 4 assessments that considered only ambition, although comments were concerned that the plan was under resourced and ultimately not feasible without greater investment.   On average, the Green plan scored a 75.

In the one framework that included “do-ability” as a key component, the Liberals plan came out on top, as being a series of planks that could actually get done, although overall, not as ambitious as it needed to be.  Two of the other three groups ranked it second to the Greens, and overall, the Liberals’ plan scored an average of  70, with comments that it was both realistically achievable and represented increased climate action over the present status quo.

The NDP plan overall was scored below the Greens by all, and below the Liberals by three of the four assessments, leaving the NDP with an average score of 60.  The comments indicated a lack of ambition, prioritizing less impactful measures, and a concern as to doability of some elements.

Finally, the Conservative Party’s plan was praised only for its wetland restoration policies, viewed as a policy to appease the duck hunting members of their base.  It was otherwise viewed as an abject fail, and expected to make Canada’s emissions worse.  It scored an average of 28.5

The Conservatives do not seem to grasp that Canadian emissions are amongst the worst in the world.  They point to our share of global GHG emissions as being comparatively small versus the rest of the world, while failing to acknowledge that we have a much much smaller fraction of the world population.  One group scored the Conservative plan a 40 – the rest viewed it as a 25 or 26 – resulting in an overall average of 28.5%.  In particular it was noted that there was no specific time commitment on virtually all of the policies as to when they would be implemented. 

We did not review either of the other two parties, as Maxime Bernier denies climate change and the BQ is unable to impact pan-Canadian policies.

Our research on the policies is downloadable below.