Election 44: A vote on the climate

September 16, 2021
Anthony Merante

When the federal election was called in August, Earthroots reached out to the four major federal parties. We wanted to get answers to the questions that concern you, our valued supporters. Each party was presented with three questions regarding the environment to help voters understand the party stances and solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises. Each question was provided with background and context to highlight what we value as environmentalists. The questions were:

  1. What are your party’s plans to ensure that protected species have protected spaces? The Endangered Species Act has fallen short for decades allowing wildlife populations decline. Protected species require protected spaces inclusive of wildlife ranges, habitat connectivity, and bans from destructive resource extraction near nesting and feeding grounds.
  2. How will your party restore Ontario’s forests and wetlands? Ontario’s old-growth and boreal forests play a critical role in fighting climate change through nature-based solutions, and they are home to iconic species like caribou and wolves. Forestry and mining industry management plans need to be held to a higher standard, restricting activities within our old-growth forests and species-at-risk ranges.
  3. What are your party’s plans to work towards creating healthy watersheds? Ontario has a long history of water exploitation ranging from mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows to toxic waste dumping in Hamilton Harbour. We are calling for zero-tolerance on water contamination, the safeguarding of our water bodies, and for the naturalization of shorelines and meadows for better climate adaption.

We sent surveys to the Conservative Party (CPC), the Green Party (GPC), Liberal Party (LPC), the New Democratic Party (NDP). Earthroots is are happy to share the responses we received ahead of in-person voting Monday September 20th across the country (bring your own pencil).

Party Responses

What are your party’s plans to ensure that protected species have protected spaces?

CPC

In lieu of a tailored answer, the CPC directed us to Chapter 9 of their platform which includes: "In 2010, the previous Conservative government committed to conserving 17% of terrestrial lands through protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. As of January 2020, Canada had reached 12%.We remain committed to reaching this target and will seek to increase our goal to 25%. However, we will remain mindful that there is a significant risk in expressing our ambition strictly in terms of how much area is protected. If we focus solely on area, we will tend to favour the creation of large parks in remote areas and risk making it harder to protect our most endangered ecosystems, which predominantly lie in the southern working landscape."

LPC

"We exceeded Canada’s goal of protecting 10% of our oceans by2020 – going from less than 1% in 2015 to 14% in 2020 –  and we’re ramping up to protect 25% our lands and oceans by 2025, and 30% by 2030.  Our government also made the two largest investments in nature conservation in Canadian history— $1.3 billion in Budget 2018 and over$4 billion in Budget 2021. We will build on this progress and continue to protect more nature by:

- Establishing10 new national parks and 10 new national marine conservation areas (NMCAs).

- Working with Indigenous communities on co-management agreements of these national parks and NMCAs.

- Continuing to work with partners to ensure Canada meets its goals to protect and conserve 25% of our lands and waters by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

- Working to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 in Canada and achieving a full recovery for nature by 2050. This includes championing this goal internationally to ensure that the world protects the intact nature required to reverse the biodiversity collapse and protect our climate.

- SupportingIndigenous communities to build capacity to establish more Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas."

NDP

"Jagmeet Singh and the NDP know that Canadians expect their government to protect the environment from further threat of wildfires, floods, irreversible loss of species, and all the other harmful outcomes of the climate crisis. While the Liberals buy pipelines and the Conservatives fail to recognize the climate crisis, the NDP will restore environmental leadership by pursuing a Nature agenda that protects our land, freshwater, and oceans. In recent years NDP Caucus has put forward legislative bills calling for tougher penalties against climate polluters, shark fin bans, and stronger measures on net zero initiatives with shorter timelines. A NDP government will expand on these initiatives by launching a 10-year nature plan to reverse species loss and curb the import and domestic trade of wild animals."

How will your party restore Ontario’s forests and wetlands?

CPC

In lieu of a tailored answer, the CPC directed us to Chapter 9 of their platform which includes: "We will invest an additional $3 billion between now and 2030 in natural climate solutions focused on management of forest, crop and grazing lands and restoration of grasslands, wetlands, and forests.These solutions can have multiple benefits: not only will they help sequester carbon, but they can also provide protection for communities and additional benefits for wildlife." Response was pulled from Chapter 9 of party platform as directed via email.

LPC

"To fight climate change and protect forests, our government is investing over $3 billion to plant 2 billion trees. Canada’s grasslands, wetlands and peatlands are also highly valuable for their ability to store carbon. To restore degraded ecosystems, protect wildlife, and improve land and resource management practices, the government is investing $631 million, and working with provinces, territories, conservation organizations, federal landowners and Indigenous communities to implement climate smart, natural solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to ecosystem loss. We are also committed to working with Ontario to reach abroad nature agreement that protects species and spaces."

NDP

"Jagmeet Singh and the NDP will partner with provinces and municipalities to work together to protect air, forest, and wetlands. We also know that true climate leadership requires a government to stand up for Canadians and safeguard their interests. Jagmeet Singh and a NDP government will take the necessary measures to ensure that Ontario’s forest and wetlands – specifically the Greenbelt – is not further encroached or developed. A NDP government will enshrine the right to healthy environment in a CanadianEnvironmental Bill of Rights and, more importantly, enforce this legislation to establish climate leadership and accountability. We also know that young people want to lead the way to protect their future. A NDP government create a new Civilian Climate Corps to provide jobs to young people and encourage them to lead the conservation efforts to restore wetlands and forest in their communities in Ontario and across the country."

What are your party’s plans to work towards creating healthy watersheds?

CPC

In lieu of a tailored answer, the CPC directed us to Chapter 9 of their platform which includes: "To clean up our waters and protect water quality, we will End Raw Sewage Dumping. To bring an end to the practice of dumping raw sewage into our lakes, rivers, and oceans, we will work with provinces and territories and municipalities. Since taking office, Justin Trudeau has failed to protect our waterways from pollution. In one of its first acts, this government allowed Montreal to dump 8 billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. We will also tighten the rules on cruise ships in Canadian waters to align with Alaska’s rules and prevent sewage & gray water dumping. Reinstate the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund . To protect the vital natural resource that so many rely on and call home, we will reinstate the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund. Justin Trudeau cancelled the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund in 2017. It funded over 200 community-based projects that restored fish and wildlife populations, planted thousands of new trees, and reduced harmful sewage and waste dumping." Response was pulled from Chapter 9 of party platform as directed via email.

LPC

"Fresh, clean water sustains life. But while it seems abundant and constantly flowing, it is ultimately a finite natural resource.The protection of our lakes, rivers and underground aquifers is a critical concern, especially as pollution continues to impact our major waterways, and as droughts and floods become more frequent and severe. To tackle all these complex challenges together, are-elected Liberal government will:

- Implement a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan, including an historic investment of $1billion over 10 years. This plan will provide essential funding to protect and restore large lakes and river systems, starting with the Great Lakes-St.Lawrence River System, Lake Simcoe, the Lake Winnipeg Basin, the Fraser RiverBasin, and the Mackenzie River Basin.

- Establish and fully fund a Canada Water Agency in 2022, working with partners to safeguard our freshwater resources for generations to come, including by supporting provinces, territories, and Indigenous partners, in developing and updating river basin and large watershed agreements.

- Modernize the 50-year-old Canada Water Act to reflect our new freshwater reality, including addressing climate change, Indigenous water rights.

- Invest $37.5 million in the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario, the world’s only large-scale centre for freshwater science and which the Harper government tried to close."

NDP

"Jagmeet Singh and the NDP will stop the status quo climate agenda put forward by theLiberals. We know we cannot afford a Conservative government that does not even acknowledge the reality of our country’s climate crisis. Under years of Liberal and Conservative governments, Canada has one of the worse climate records amongst G20 countries. Canadians deserve a better choice than inaction and climate denial. We must protect our children’s future. A NDP government will safeguard Canada’s ecosystems and biodiversity by protecting 30%of our land, freshwater, and oceans by 2030. We know that healthy watersheds mean healthy biodiversity and healthy humans. We will launch a national freshwater strategy along with protecting existing watersheds. We will do so in partnership with provinces/territories, municipalities, and indigenous groups."

Voting day is Monday September 20th from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm Eastern Time.

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