Voting for the climate?

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, left to right, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole pose for an official photo before the federal election English-language Leaders debate in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, September 9, 2021. Sean Kilpatrick/Pool via REUTERS

While other industrial democracies have managed to bend the curve on their climate emissions, Canada’s have continued to rise. In fact, Canada now has the worst climate record of any of the G7 nations. This is largely because Canadian politicians have been unwilling to take on the largest and fastest growing source of emissions — Big Oil.

Given those realities, we are going to take a look at party platforms through the lens of whether or not the parties’ commitments are ambitious enough to meet the scale of the climate challenge Canada faces, and whether they are willing to take on the critical issue of rising fossil fuel emissions.

Liberals: The Liberals have included in their platform the idea of a cap on oil and gas emissions. This is the first time since coming to office that the Liberals have attempted to address oil and gas emissions head on, and is a major step forward. However, there are very few details on what mechanisms a re-elected government would use to implement this new policy. The Liberals have committed to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, but they have chosen to create their own definition of what that qualifies as a subsidy rather than using the World Trade Organization’s internationally agreed upon definition. Add that to the fact that the Liberal government handed out $18 billion in fossil fuel subsidies in 2020, and as result we can’t really give the Liberals a passing grade on subsidies.

Of course the Liberals climate plan is completely undercut by their continued unwillingness to admit that using billions of dollars in public money to build the Trans Mountain pipeline is an enormous climate mistake. 😑

Conservatives: The Conservatives have developed an actual climate platform and admitted that carbon pricing is one of the most efficient ways to tackle climate change. This is a big improvement over past Conservative platforms, but it is still clearly the least ambitious of the plans. For example, the Conservative plan would roll back Canada’s 2030 climate target to the Harper era policies. So while this platform is definitely a step forward for the Conservative Party, it would still be a big step back for Canada and the climate. ☹️

NDP: The New Democrats climate plan includes a commitment to phase out all fossil fuel subsidies, an increase in the ambition of Canada’s 2030 climate target, and a plan for a just transition for workers. However, while their plan is long on big ideas, it is short on details on how they will achieve those goals, and critically fails to take on the oil and gas industry head on. 😐

Green Party: Not surprisingly, the Greens have the most ambitious climate plan and aggressively take on the oil and gas sector. Their plan includes ending all fossil fuel subsidies, a ban on fracking, and phasing out tar sands production by no later than 2035. While their platform has few details on how some of these targets will be reached, they have clearly and correctly identified the real problem and are unafraid to stand up to Big Oil. 😀

To read each party’s full platform in detail:




We challenge corporations and governments to treat people and the environment with respect, because our lives depend on it.

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