Voting in Canada’s Election 44 took place on September 20, returning the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau with an almost identical minority in the House of Commons. Green Party Leader Annamie Paul failed to win her own seat and her party received only 2.3% of the popular vote – with Paul Manly losing his seat in Nanaimo, to be balanced by a Green gain by Mike Morrice in Kitchener Ontario. Candidates endorsed as “climate champions” by 350 Canada had mixed success, with defeats for Avi Lewis in B.C., Lenore Zann in Nova Scotia, and Angella MacEwen, CUPE senior economist, in Ottawa Centre . Yet at least seven were re-elected (some still too close to call), including: Peter Julian (NDP , New Westminster—Burnaby), Laurel Collins (NDP , Victoria), Elizabeth May (Green, Saanich–Gulf Islands), Matthew Green (NDP, Hamilton Centre), and Blake Desjarlais (NDP, Edmonton Greisbach).
Media commentators are keen to paint the election exercise as a waste of time and money. But environmental advocates are not deterred – as described by Jesse Firempong in “What this election means for women, racialized and climate-vulnerable communities” (National Observer, Sept.21). He states, “This election was a signal to the Prime Minister to step up or step aside. With their series of “first 100 days” promises, the Liberals have given us an easy litmus test to evaluate their sincerity on a few issues, such as legislation to ban conversion therapy, combat online hate, and institute paid sick leave. On keeping fossil fuels in the ground, reconciliation and defunding the police, movement voices will remain critical levers for mobilizing public accountability.”
And those movement voices are already speaking up. On September 21, Climate Action Network Canada issued a press release, “Environmental organizations representing millions of Canadians urges Prime Minister Trudeau to listen to the majority – climate-concerned voters – and swiftly fulfil climate promises” – which states that nearly 60 per cent of Canadians voted for parties with strong climate commitments, and announces a new coalition called No more Delays, supported by Greenpeace Canada, Environmental Defence, SumofUs, Stand.earth, Climate Emergency Unit, Équiterre, Citizens Climate Lobby Canada, Climate Reality Project Canada, Grandmothers Advocacy Network and Climate Action Network Canada – Réseau action climat Canada (CAN-Rac Canada).
No More Delays calls on the newly-elected government to:
- “Work with MPs across party lines to make good on your promises to protect our communities and our planet. Within100 days, put forward a plan to end fossil fuel subsidies & stop all new fossil fuel expansion
- Deliver a clear timeline and strategy to implement the TRC calls to action and UNDRIP
- Restart the Just Transition consultation and urgently work to develop and pass this important legislation
- Commit to at least 60 per cent reduction of domestic emissions from 2005 levels by 2030” .
Member organization Greenpeace goes further, calling for all of the above plus:
- Implement a just transition for workers including income support and funding for green jobs.
- End fossil fuel subsidies and cancel the Trans Mountain Pipeline immediately.
- Increase targets and develop a plan to hit 60% domestic emissions reductions by 2030 (versus 2005).
- Implement fair taxation of the wealthy to help pay for the transition.
350Canada maintains an online petition to the Minister of Natural Resources and all Party Leaders to act on the Just Transition legislation – consultations. The process was suspended during the campaign, and submissions are set to close on September 30. The Discussion Paper to guide submissions is here .
Leadnow.ca is maintaining an online petition calling on the parties to work together for climate action, and Seth Klein of the Climate Emergency Unit specifically suggests : “how about we stabilize our political lives with a formal Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA), like we had in British Columbia from 2017-2020, like the Yukon has now, and similar to what the Ontario Liberals and NDP had in the 1980s or at the federal level from 1972-74. … Numerous parties tabled good ideas in this election — let’s see them each put their best ones forward.
And as a refresher – the detailed Liberal platform is here; here are just a few of the climate-related promises to watch for:
- “Require oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions by at least 75% below 2012 levels by 2030 and work to reduce methane emissions across the broader economy”;
- “Set 2025 and 2030 milestones based on the advice of the Net-Zero Advisory Body to ensure reduction levels are ambitious and achievable and that the oil and gas sector makes a meaningful contribution to meeting the nation’s 2030 climate goals.”;
- “Ban thermal coal exports from and through Canada no later than 2030.”;
- “Accelerate our G20 commitment to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from 2025 to 2023.
- Develop a plan to phase-out public financing of the fossil fuel sector, including from Crown corporations, consistent with our commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”
- “Introduce a Clean Electricity Standard that will set Canada on a path to cut more emissions by 2030 and to achieve a 100% net-zero emitting electricity system by 2035.”
- “Launch a National Net-zero Emissions Building Strategy, which will chart a path to net-zero emissions from buildings by 2050 with ambitious milestones along the way.”
- ” Accelerate the development of the national net-zero emissions model building code for 2025 adoption.”
- “Accelerate the transition from fossil fuel-based heating systems to electrification through incentives and standards, including investing $250 million to help low-income Canadians get off home-heating oil.”
- ” Establish a $2 billion Futures Fund for Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador that will be designed in collaboration with local workers, unions, educational institutions, environmental groups, investors, and Indigenous peoples who know their communities best. We will support local and regional economic diversification and specific placebased strategies.”
- ” Move forward with Just Transition Legislation, guided by the feedback we receive from workers, unions, Indigenous peoples, communities, and provinces and territories”
- “Create more opportunities for women, LGBTQ2 and other underrepresented people in the energy sector.”
- “Launch a Clean Jobs Training Centre to help industrial, skill and trade workers across sectors to upgrade or gain new skills to be on the leading edge of zero carbon industry.”
- ” Table legislation to require the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to examine the link between race, socio-economic status, and exposure to environmental risk, and develop a strategy to address environmental justice.”