Green Party Platform

Green Party Ready to Pitch Platform

The Green Party, headed by outspoken leader Elizabeth May, is gearing up this week to take part in its first ever federal election debates tonight and Thursday.

In previous posts, I've highlighted the environmental platforms of the Liberals and NDP parties. I guess just the Green Party is left (that's a dig at the Conservatives, who still haven't released their platform).

Obviously the Green Party continues to make environmental issues the backbone of their campaign. In fact, their environmental objectives are so comprehensive that it's hard to find a decent dissection in the mainstream media. So let's break it down here:

The Greens were actually the first to release their official platform. Okay, but that's only 8 pages. There's more. There's also the 160-page Vision Green document and a separate breakdown of their Green Tax Shift.

Climate Change / Carbon Emissions
- Introduce a $50/ton carbon tax right away (similar to the Liberal plan but higher from the outset).
- A difference between the Green and Liberal plans is that the Greens are proposing to allocate all carbon tax revenue towards payroll and income tax cuts (vs. Liberals who will use some for social spending).
- The goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. By comparison, the NDP wants 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, and hte Liberals haven't set targets that I am aware of.

Green Economy
- Move from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) indicator to Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) which includes environmental considerations such as air quality (using legislation to support this and change our system of national accounts).

- Change legislation to prioritize fish stocks over oil and gas exploration.
- Oppose large scale fishing technologies and encourage smaller scale wild fisheries.

- Invest heavily in rail infrastructure, improve VIA offerings, and come up with a "national clean freight initiative".
- Double existing federal funding for public transportation.
- Make transit passes fully tax deductible and support efforts to make them free for lowest-income levels.
- Stop funding expansion of highway and roads.
- Force auto companies to meet higher emission standards and offer consumer rebates up to $5000 for efficient cars.

- Allocate one cent from the GST to municipal governments for "Green Cities" initiatives.
- Many specific actions to support local agriculture (some of it interesting, some of it pretty idealistic such as "supporting the 200 km diet").
- Nuclear - stop uranium mining and introduce measures to essentially kill the nuclear industry in Canada.
- Prohibit bulk water exports and bring in legislation mandating water efficiency.
- Spend $500 million annually on expanding conservation lands and marine habitat.

I could go on and on with details, but I think that covers most of the fundamentals.

My initial thoughts are that this thing is really detailed, which is great, but it also opens them up to a lot of criticism. I like that their opposing bottom trawling fishing (like the NDP) and emphasize sustainable fishing in general, a really worthwhile cause. And there are plenty of "hard green" investments proposed, such as protecting forests and investing in our parks system (good stuff!).

On the critical side, I'm skeptical of their emphasis on revitalizing rail transit. I generally don't believe in governments picking winners. And if their carbon tax does what it is supposed to, if rail is feasible, it should be without new subsidies. Same with the energy efficient cars stuff - if carbon is priced right, why do we need more legislation and rebates for this? I'm also seeing old Green Party policies like "promote hemp" are still in there, which seems a bit behind the times.

That's it for now on the Greens, until I get around to a final roundup of all the parties environmental platforms. For more info, TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paikin (who also happens to be hosting the debate this week and is the best in the business in my opinion) offers an mp3 version of their interview with Elizabeth May.

Photo from Shaun Merritt's photostream

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