Though both the New Democratic Party and the Greens are historically pro-environment, it does not necessarily translate to a national or local partnership, according to recent interviews with the only local parties to respond so far to an inquiry on climate policy from The Guelph Post.
The New Democrats and Liberals were duelling it out in the House of Commons this past week over declaring a climate emergency, but Green Party Leader Elizabeth May called for all-party cooperation in the fight against climate change.
Though the NDP and Green parties seemed to both be united against most of the current government’s climate action plan, differences remain in their approaches.
Though thorough and likely vetted election platforms have yet to be released, separation between the parties — both of which have been known to have strong pro-environment stances — have started to become clear.
The Greens want a more aggressive carbon tax, a Liberal initiative that currently imposes a minimum levy on fuel equivalencies to $20 per tonne in 2019 and rising to $50 per tonne by 2022.
May’s party also wants to ban fracking, cancelling all new fossil-fuel development including projects already approved by Ottawa, expand rail services and get internal combustion vehicles off the road and replaced with electric cars by 2040.
Federal New Democrats have said that the Green plan is currently light on details so they could not give too much comment at this time. Members of parliament, however, have questioned a Green concept to dismiss the LNG pipeline project.
A political analyst for Maclean’s Magazine said in late April that an NDP-Green alliance could potentially hold the balance of power to form a minority government in Ottawa.
It would not be the first time that the two parties have worked together. They created a coalition on the provincial level in British Columbia after the 2017 election there to overthrow the Liberals to create a government.
Platforms are not yet out but this will likely be rectified by the time the writ drops closer to the fall.
The NDP and Greens both gave their take on potential climate action partnership between the parties, the government and the Official Opposition Conservative Party in response to interview questions from The Guelph Post.
Local New Democrats said that there a “few minor differences” between the two parties. Green candidate Steve Dyck largely ignored a direct question on partnership, saying instead that it “is the responsibility of all Canadians and all political parties to honestly face the climate crisis before us.”
The New Democrat riding association president, Tim Mathewson, said in response to The Guelph Post inquiry that his party would be “more than happy to work with any party on common policies that are good for Canadians, including environmental ones”.
To the same question on if they would work or support an NDP climate policy, the Greens said in response that they “will be able to work with any political party that offers honest Climate solutions.”
Dyck added that “I look forward to learning about the specific NDP policy being proposed.”
United against Liberals, Tories
Though the two party representatives did not confirm for certain whether they would ever work together, they were definitely synonymous in condemnation and concern with the ruling Liberal Party’s take on climate policy and the environment.
In response to a question asking if the current government has been effective in regards to environment policy, Mathewson said “absolutely not”, asking: “what have they done in the past four years to make progress on the environmental front?”
Mathewson also questioned the 13 years of Liberal government from 1993 to 2006, indicating that they only appear to show concern for the environment during election season.
“Like a lot of other areas, there has been a lot of talk and consultation and minimal action. It’s just another area, like electoral reform and progress on Indigenous issues — among many others — where the Liberals have broken their promises and disappointed Canadians.”
Dyck said “climate action has been used as a political football” and added that it must be taken seriously. He added that “we need honest conversations in Ottawa to create low carbon, high-efficiency jobs of the future today” and to eliminate subsidies to fossil fuel industries.
Though Dyck is concerned about the government buying and building a pipeline, he did, however, commend the Liberals for steps towards putting a revenue neutral price on carbon, saying that “pricing carbon pollution and using market based solutions is sound policy for a business person.”
On the Conservative approach to the environment, the New Democrats said that “all we’ve seen from the Conservatives is an absurd denial of the reality of climate change”.
The right-wing party has yet to release a plan on climate change but Leader Andrew Scheer insists it will be released well before the election in October and that it “would address the environmental challenges of the 21st century”.
The Tories have blasted the Liberals’ carbon tax, saying the impact on families is not effective despite government insistence that, with rebates, it is a neutral tax for the middle class. It is likely the Conservatives will have a unique plan that does not involve any increase in taxes.
Dyck said that “a conservative minded person who wants climate action and less government regulation would support revenue-neutral carbon pricing”.
The idea behind the carbon tax is to “place a price on carbon” the government says, with most of the impact hitting the non-renewable energy sector, such as the fossil fuel industry. However, critics say that the tax will financially strain families.
The New Democrat riding association president, Tim Mathewson, said he believes the issue of climate policy and the environment will be a critical election issue nationally and also a “top priority” for voters in Guelph.
Dyck did not comment directly on a question regarding climate policy’s impact on the local race, but did say that “climate science has shown the risks to our homes, our community and our economy — it is not a game”.
Projections from one professor have given the Greens a lead over the NDP locally but no reputable polls have been carried out.
The New Democrats do not yet have a candidate in Guelph and platforms have not been released yet, but it is certain all the parties will have a strong take on climate policy ahead of the election this fall.
Local riding associations for the Liberals, Conservatives and the People’s Party of Canada were also reached out to for comment on climate policy by The Post but there has been no response from those groups at this time.