For those of you who aren’t aware, Canadians will be heading to the polls at the end of this month to vote for a new governing party and prime minister. We’ll likely end up with the same Liberal minority government that we had before, but this election at least gives us a glimpse of party policies with respect to the environment and clean energy.
It’s tough to get a clear picture of where the four main (non-separatist) parties stand, given most of them have yet to release details of their campaign promises. Last I checked, and judging exclusively from content on their Web sites, the Liberals and Green Party have the most details while the Conservatives hardly mention the word environment and the NDP use more space criticizing the Liberals than articulating in any useful way their own policies on the environment.
I expect more details will come from all parties in the coming weeks. I’d have to say I’m most disappointed with the NDP, which claims to be a champion of environmental issues but has failed to give Canadians any serious look of what it plans to do and what kind of investments it’s prepared to make.
I know NDP leader Jack Layton is big on environmental issues, but personal conviction and clear policies are two different things. Yes, Jack, you keep saying “we have a plan,” but where the hell is it? In general, it’s a shame that the environment (and by association clean energy and related technologies) is not being given greater priority in this election. If you ask me, somebody needs a serious kick in the ass to get this issue — hybrid vehicle incentives, solar subsidies, emission mandates, Kyoto obligations, energy-efficiency loan programs, ethanol/biodiesel and tax-shift policies — more prominence on the election radar screen.
A better job must also be done to link healthcare costs with the lack of action on the environment. Other than throwing money at the provinces, the feds can’t do much in the area of healthcare because it doesn’t have jurisdiction. But it can cover the healthcare angle by turning attention to the environment and proactively tackling environmental problems that cause sickness and contribute significantly to the overburdening of our healthcare system.
Hopefully the release today of the Green Party’s election platform will help kickstart the issue. Among other things, party leader Jim Harris said he would entrench the right to a clean environment in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In case you’re interested, here’s a link to the party’s election platform.
(Disclosure: I don’t know who I’m voting for yet, but I can tell you I’m not voting Conservative).