Here is a condensed summary of the environmental platforms of the four major Canadian political parties in 2008. The Bloc Quebecois is not included in this list due to the fact that they are a regional party that serves explicitly regional interests.
Although all four parties vowed to reduce greenhouse gases, the Conservatives use 2006 as their baseline for improvement, while the other parties use 1990 levels. This amounts to significantly lower greenhouse gas reductions for the Conservatives compared to the other three parties.
The Conservative Party’s 2008 election platform was released in a policy document titled The True North Strong and Free: Stephen Harper’s Plan for Canadians. The Conservatives committed to reducing Canada’s greenhouse gases by 20 percent below 2006 levels by 2020, and cutting air pollution by 50 percent by 2015 below 2006 levels. The government claimed these targets would be achieved through government laws imposed on industries, as well as national caps for industrial emissions commonly associated with smog and acid rain.
The Conservatives environmental policies include promoting smarter energy use through the ecoEnergy Initiative; a Chemical Management Plan to regulate chemicals harmful to human health and the environment; $1.5 billion over seven years for the production of renewable fuels; a commitment to ensure that 90 percent of Canadian electricity needs are generated through non-emitting sources by 2020; and additional government funding to acquire and preserve ecologically sensitive lands.
The Conservatives indicted they would cut the federal excise tax on diesel fuel in half, from four to two cents per litre. They said they would invest $113 million into an Environmental Enforcement Action Plan over the next five years and impose stiffer penalties for the most serious environmental crimes (up to $6 million for corporations and $1 million for individuals)while increasing inspection and seizure powers with the help of a team of specialized environmental prosecutors. Their legal efforts also included the creation of environmental laws that allow courts to compel offenders to remedy any harm to the environment and a searchable database that tells the public the details of a corporation’s convictions for environmental crimes. Under the Conservative plan, corporations would be required to tell shareholders if they were convicted of environmental crimes. The Conservatives indicated that they would prohibit the exportation of bitumen to countries outside Canada that do not have equivalent emission-reduction targets and re-affirm Canada’s position that the North American Free Trade Agreement cannot require Canada to export bulk water to other NAFTA countries. A $2-billion ecoENERGY initiative promotes smarter energy use, greater use of clean energy sources, and cleaner use of traditional energy sources. Finally, conservatives vowed to protect conservation areas, including freshwater.
The Liberal Party outlined its 2008 election platform in a policy document entitled Richer, Fairer, Greener: An Action Plan for the 21st Century. The Environment was one of the core planks of the platform.
The Liberals adopted the Green Shift which involved a detailed plan for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, 40 percent by 2035, and 60 to 80 percent by 2050. These goals were to be achieved through a progressive carbon tax system, which would place levies on carbon emissions. The Liberals were also committed to creating a national carbon trading system, enabling companies to trade emission credits in order to meet targets.
Other Liberal environmental policies included a Renewable Power Production Incentive to encourage the development and use of non-carbon-emitting energy sources; providing incentives to Canadians for green home renovations; stiffer fuel efficiency standards for automobiles; the introduction of higher water and air quality standards to reduce pollution; a Toxic Substance Reduction Strategy for safe food products; and the development of a National Ecosystem Stewardship Strategy to protect Canadian wilderness, oceans, and endangered species.
For more information on the Liberal Party’s environmental policies in 2008 go to Liberal Party of Canada: A Greener Canada (PDF)
New Democratic Party
The New Democratic Party released a document outlining its 2008 election platform. The document focuses on the environment as one of three key policy areas.
The NDP promised to cut Canadian greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This was to be accomplished through a combination of cap and trade, mandatory vehicle emission standards, and investing in renewable energy production and consumption.
The NDP also pledged to protect Canada’s water resources by placing some restrictions on the export of bulk water, encouraging more efficient water consumption, and improving water quality through stronger regulations. The NDP further pledged to complete the National Parks System; ensure the integrity of parks and protected areas are not compromised by industrial activity or inappropriate development; improve endangered species protection; and establish an Environment Commissioner as an independent Officer of Parliament to provide oversight on the government’s environmental performance.
For more information on the NDP’s 2008 environmental policies see New Democratic Party of Canada: A Plan for the Environment that Will Really Work
The Green party released its 2008 election platform in a document entitled Looking Forward: A Fresh Perspective on Canada’s Future. The Environment was a central policy priority of the Green Party.
The Green Party committed itself to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050; introducing a carbon tax (to be offset by cuts in personal and corporate taxes); expanding research and development of low-carbon technologies; improving energy productivity through smarter regulation of large appliances and vehicles, as well as a national program to retrofit existing buildings; and participating constructively in global negotiations concerning environmental issues.
For more information on the Green Party’s environmental policies see Green Party of Canada: Environment.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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