One person alone cannot solve the wounded state of our environment. Instead, it is the collective duty of all citizens of a nation to come together and minimize pollution and environmental destruction through sacrifice, determination and unity. Canadians in particular — as we hold the bare minimum responsibility to honour and maintain the Indigenous and First Nations peoples’ land that was unlawfully stripped away from them by colonists — have the duty to vote for the political party that will offer Canada’s ecosystems, wildlife and lands the support that they need to thrive. Their plans to combat issues like global warming, water pollution and loss of biodiversity are just as essential.
Currently, the next Canadian federal election is still three years away. However, it is never too early to start researching how one’s vote can have a huge impact on the environment in the next four years after the election. It simply brings us back to our duty as Canadians — to raise our voice on issues that matter to the welfare of our nation.
The Liberal Party
Led by current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, one of the Liberal Party’s main focuses for environmental action is on climate change. Trudeau plans to combat this issue by proposing a 30% decrease in emissions by 2030, compared to the 2005 levels, in part through the introduction of carbon tax. However, one plan that is currently in motion is Trudeau’s desire to ban single-use plastics by the end of 2021. Other ways in which the Liberal party plans on helping our ecosystems include protecting Canadian oceans and coastlines through the innovative Oceans Protections Plan. This plan aims to “[preserve] and [restore] vulnerable marine ecosystems” while also protecting marine animals. Overall, while the Liberals place an emphasis on keeping Canada’s environment safe, they also plan to do so while boosting Canada’s economy by investing in well-paying jobs in clean technology.
The Conservative Party
The Conservative Party’s leader, Andrew Scheer, has been very vocal about his rejection of Prime Minister Trudeau’s carbon tax and has proposed an alternate plan. The Conservative Party wants to encourage other countries to fight climate change and reduce emissions. The party wants to take a more global approach to environmental issues rather than focusing solely on Canada’s impact. Along with Scheer’s plan to develop strategies to keep Canada’s natural landmarks and parks clean and to protect Canadian wildlife, the Conservatives also aim to push independent companies to invest in green technology through a process that involves forcing those who exceed carbon limits to invest in the research and development of cleaner technology. Such practice will allegedly reduce harmful emissions and focus on making renewable energy sources a better option.
The New Democratic Party
New Democratic Party’s leader Jagmeet Singh emphasizes protecting Canadian communities and wildlife by staying committed to environmental action. As evidence for this commitment, see the NDP’s plan to transition to a carbon-free economy while also creating over 300,000 jobs to support families in the process. This plan includes several changes, such as “investing in” electric transit, making affordable electric vehicles, banning single-use plastics, and ending oil and gas company subsidies, to achieve a similar goal to that of the Liberal Party to have Canada powered by net carbon-free electricity by 2030. Also, as opposed to the Conservative Party, the NDP supports the carbon tax and plans to ensure that “Canada’s biggest emitters” pay their respective amount of tax.
The Bloc Quebecois
The Bloc Quebecois’ main priority in environmental action involves implementing taxes and reducing emissions. Party leader, Yves-Francois Blanchet, recently made a statement about his plan to focus on the environment post-pandemic, which proposes to “enhance Quebec’s environmental industries,” including renewable energies, forestry and wastewater management. Along with this, the Bloc Quebecois aims to provide tax incentives for Canadian families to switch over to electric home heating, as opposed to oil heating, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the party plans to introduce electric energy systems in commercial buildings and plans to support businesses as they undergo the switch to renewable energy.
The Green Party
The Green Party, led by recently-elected Annamie Paul, refers to Canada’s environmental state as a “climate emergency” and plans to handle it by making changes in transportation, buildings, energy and agriculture. The Green Party holds the ambitious goal of cutting 60 percent of carbon emissions by 2030. It also wants workers in the fossil fuel industry to transition toward the renewable energy sector, make electric vehicles affordable and expand charging stations. The party also calls for cancelling the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline that carries crude and refined oil from Alberta to British Columbia and Washington State, to be completed in 2022. Having begun operations in 1953, the completion of the pipeline would increase pollution rates and in turn, contribute to climate change. Working alongside Indigenous communities, the Green Party hopes to build Canada into a series of sustainable cities and communities by investing in critical infrastructure.
More Ways to Help the Environment
While our political vote can impact the environment drastically, it is also important to note that we each have an individual responsibility to keep our earth clean and safe. This responsibility ties into what we eat, our daily commute and the amount of waste we put out. As we wait for the next election to come, let’s put some of our focus on how we can make a difference, rather than depending solely on the government, however small that change may be.
Reduce or eliminate your use of single-use plastics.
Start a compost bin.
Grow a food garden at home.
Reduce food waste by storing leftovers.
Consider car-sharing, carpooling, or public transit for your daily commute.
Recycle (you would be surprised how many people don’t do it!).
Conserve energy by lowering the thermostat by a few degrees, by turning off lights, electronics and appliances not in use and by using fans in place of air conditioning.
Pick up litter.
Shop online to reduce your carbon footprint.
Save water by taking shorter showers and by turning off the tap when not in use.