The winds of change are upon us and more than ever I feel the responsibility for reviewing all the party platforms and translating them into plain language. The Liberal Party has been the butt of many a joke this year, mostly at the hand of the Conservatives. I for one, would like to base my vote off of more than if I like Justin Trudeau's hair or not. (FYI - I'm on Team Justin's Hair). I will be reviewing the Liberal Platform for their ideas on the environment, transit, food/agriculture, energy, education and economy. You can find my review of the other platforms here - Conservative, Green, NDP.
As always the most important thing you can do is educate yourself on the platforms and get out there and vote. If you have eligible children, speak to them about the issues Canada is facing and encourage them to participate in the Turkey Vote Challenge.
The Liberal Party of Canada's platform for the Environment focuses on investing in clean technologies, taking action to fight climate change, creating clean jobs, restoring credibility to environmental assessments, preserving and promoting National Parks and protecting our waterways. The majority of their plan is undoing the cuts that the Harper government made in the last decade including:
- Launching an immediate public review into the cuts that have been made to the environmental assessment process to develop a new comprehensive process that ensures decisions are based on science and evidence. The process will be transparent to the public, analyze upstream impacts and greenhouse gas emissions from the project.
- Review of amendments that Harper made to the Fisheries Act and the elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection Act to restore lost protections and incorporate more modern safeguards.
- Reverse the $40 million that Harper cut from the federal government’s ocean science and monitoring programs.
- Restore $1.5 million in federal funding for freshwater research.
As Canada's largest employer they want to lead by example and change their own internal practices to be more sustainable. They will be a test bed for new clean technologies, implement EV charging stations at all federal lots and convert their fleet to electric vehicles. They also want to dramatically increases its use of clean technologies in energy, buildings, and procurement.
"Canada has lost 71% of its clean tech market share during the Harper decade. Our global rank is 19th."Clean Technology
By modifying the requirements of the Canadian Exploration Expenses tax deduction the Liberals can redirect the savings towards the investments in new clean technologies.
- Invest $200 million more annually to create sector-specific strategies that support innovation and clean technologies in the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, and agricultural sectors.
- Invest $100 million more per year in organizations that have been successful at supporting the emergence of clean technology firms in Canada, including Sustainable Development Technology Canada.
- Consult on ways to enhance the scientific research and experimental development tax credit to generate more clean technology investment.
- Add electricity storage technologies and electrical car charging stations to the list of investments that are eligible for accelerated capital cost allowance.
- Attend the UN Conference on Climate Change along with the provincial Premiers and then work together to develop a framework to combat climate change.
- Creation of national emission reduction targets based off of economic and scientific analysis and providing funding to provinces to help them achieve their targets.
- Support provincial carbon pricing policies.
- Fulfill Canada's G-20 commitment to phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.
- Recognize the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the land, and will respect legal traditions and perspectives on environmental stewardship
- Develop new Ambient Air Quality Standards to reduce the pollutants that cause smog, haze, and acid rain.
- Increase the amount of Canada's protected marine and coastal areas from 1.3% to 5% by 2017 and 10% by 2020.
- Formalization of a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on BC's North Coast.
Promoting National Parks
- In 2017, admission to all National Parks will be free. After that, admission will remain free for all children under 18 and any new Canadian citizen.
- Expand Learn to Camp programs with a focus on getting low and middle income families to experience the Parks.
- Invest $50 million per year to advance the development of Canada’s parks system, as well as manage and expand National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.
- Increase science spending in our National Parks by $25 million per year to allow for early identification of ecological stresses and avoid permanent degradation.
- Restrict development inside the parks and work with communities outside the parks to grow their eco-tourism industries and create jobs.
Most of the Liberal Plan for energy focuses on generating more clean technology (found in the Environment section above) which will drive efficiency in both the grid and in products using energy from the grid.
- Working with the provinces they will develop a Canadian Energy Strategy that increases the amount of of clean renewable energy in the grid and ensuring that energy efficiency standards for products is improved.
- Establish a Canadian Green Investment Bond to support both large and small renewable energy projects.
While transit infrastructure in Canada is managed at the Provincial and Municipal level, the Federal government still provide funding towards improvement projects. The Liberals plan to more than triple the current federal investment over the next 4 years to $6 billion and quadruple it over the next 10 years to $20 billion. With this funding comes flexibility for municipalities to invest it in a manner that works for them.
"It is estimated that traffic congestion costs the GTA/Hamilton area $11 billion per year. This loss of economic activity translates directly into lower wages for Canadian workers and lower standards of living for families. This is happening right across the country."
The Liberal Plan does not touch on preserving and protecting our food systems outside of their plans to protect waterways and the fish habitats within them (found in the Environment section above). I see this as a major gap in the Liberal Plan as there is a need for a national framework for labeling and nutritional guidelines.
- Invest $515 million/year in K-12 education for First Nations to start for a total of $2.6 billion over the next 4 years.
- Ensure improvements are made to First Nations education infrastructure by investing $500 million over the next 3 years.
- Increase Post-Secondary student support for Indigenous students by $50 million.
- Invest $40 million annually to create more co-op placements in STEM and business programs. The plan is to pay 25% up to $5000 of the salary to an employer that creates a new co-op placement in these fields.
- Work collaboratively with the provinces and post-secondary institutions to develop and expand the Pre-Apprenticeship Training Programs and provide up to $10 million/year to help with this program.
- Introduce a new Teacher and Early Childhood Educator School Supply Tax Benefit that applies to the purchase of up to $1,000 worth of school supplies per year for their students, providing a cash benefit of up to $150 annually back to the teachers
There is a large Liberal Plan for the economy but I am not going to go into the whole thing. You can find it here as well as included in each of the other Plans. One part of their economic plan is to create Green Bonds that will make green infrastructure projects more attractive to private investors by offering loan guarantees, reducing financing costs and risk, and bundling small projects into attractive offerings for investors. The Green Bonds will apply to projects that focus on the electrification of transportation, smart grid technology, and transmission lines for renewable energy, electric vehicle charging stations and networks, retrofits of buildings, and clean power storage. There are plans for these bonds to also be available to the public to invest in these kinds of projects.
"The simple fact is that in 2015, pretending that we have to choose between the [environment and the economy] is as harmful as it is wrong." - Justin Trudeau
What do you think about the Liberal Plan? Is there anything that you think is missing?
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