Why the Green Party is out-greening the NDP

I didn’t know jack about Jack Layton and that’s not right.  A citizen should make an informed decision on who’s right for them.  At least that’s the theory.  But I float over the surface of life because there is so much information to absorb.  Jack, I did like your “new kind of strong” advertisements.  It brought me back down to earth and I’m listening.

The 2008 NDP platform proposes the development of high-speed train links in the populated corridors like Quebec to Windsor and Edmonton-Calgary.  Wonderful!   He also supports better public transport through a 1-cent gas tax.  Sounds like a carbon tax to me.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Jack suggests that a Canadian Renewable Energy Agency would promote 35% renewable energy by 2020.  This includes “new financial incentives for clean power, including from solar, wind, water, biomass and other renewable sources for electricity production and from industrial co-generation and small-scale, sustainable community facilities.”  Also, the NDP suggests promoting the zero emission and high efficiency cars by working with manufacturers.

Another interest of the NDP is energy security and environmental considerations being number one priorities in any new trade negotiations.  They also want to slow down development of new tar sand projects until the environmental problems and CO2 considerations are dealt with.  The New Democrats would promote the processing, refining and petrochemical development of oil in Canada for job development.

From their platform comes a remarkable statement. “We must plan now for a future where our energy consumption is drastically reduced and where all our energy comes from renewable sources.”  This is a politician telling you the truth about your energy future – oil will decline and we need to adapt.

Of course, it makes perfect sense that non-renewable sources will eventually decline.  But few politicians want to be the bearer of bad news or to utter that incendiary four-letter word “peak” when describing oil.  Jack Layton gets a “B+” rating for his energy platform that confronts directly the challenges we will see in coming years.  Jack said no to a carbon tax in favour of a cap and trade system.  Some call it an opportunistic approach to vote getting.

Can you identify what party makes this statement?  “We acknowledge that human society depends on the ecological resources of the planet, and must ensure the integrity of ecosystems and preserve biodiversity and the resilience of life supporting systems.”  If you thought Green Party, you would be right.

The Green party, in 70 countries around the world, has some similarities with the NDP but the Greens go back to the basics of life and develop policy through a number of basic principles (Social justice, ecological wisdom, non-violence, participatory democracy, sustainability, and respect for diversity).

The leader since 2006 is Elizabeth May, a longtime environmentalist, writer and lawyer. On energy, the Greens favour a carbon tax like the Liberal plan. The green vision includes cuts in income, payroll taxes and provides rebates to make the tax shift fair to various sectors.  Corporate tax is reduced when companies reduce carbon emissions, which provides them a double benefit. A cap and trade system is implemented for large emitters.

She supports increased rail and green urban transport, promotes local agriculture and the 200-kilometer diet as well as community gardens.  Her party would “launch a plan for Canada’s Green Century, with a commitment to make Canada one of the most energy-efficient, sustainably powered nations in the world.”

All buildings in Canada would have an energy retrofit by 2025 and new buildings would net zero energy construction after that date.

The Green party positions itself as being fiscally conservative with a goal to eliminate the national debt.  According to May, it is the only party that “grasps the future… at the end of the Fossil Fuel Era, we are emerging to a new reality….that the greatest threat to our security does not come from foreign terror cells and criminal elements, serious as they may be, but from our addiction to fossil fuels and the clear and present danger presented by the climate crisis.”

Elizabeth May’s straight honest approach attracts me.  I would give her an “A” rating for the very detailed Green energy platform.  Although I may not agree with every item they propose, the website makes fascinating reading.  Her rise to prominence has been due to her performance in the debates and is an indicator of dissatisfaction with the present government.

Polls show only a little better than a third of Canadians want Stephen Harper, which means a clear majority of Canadians do not want Stephen Harper.  Together the Greens and the NDP have almost a third of the voters.  Our electoral system ensures that the split among the opposition is of advantage to the Conservatives in the same way that the PC’s and Alliance split the right wing vote in years prior to the 2003 merger.

As difficult as it may be to contemplate, there are some ridings (closely contested in 2006) where voters, who want a better energy policy than the Conservatives offer, may vote strategically.  This include Tobique-Mactaquac, Fredericton, Madawaska-Restigouche, and Miramichi.

The people of Canada have several credible choices this year with respect to solving our energy problems.  Recent events in the financial world indicate how fragile our global economy is.  It’s evident that different policies are required to make our system more resilient and stable.  Review the platforms.  Your vote on October 14 is important to your future.  Can you afford to miss it?

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One comment

  1. blogging a dead horse · October 12, 2008

    The Greens can’t win a single seat under our electoral system.

    The only way to change that is to vote for change. Jack Layton is the only party leader with a commitment to change our electoral system to proportional represenation in his platform.

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