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SCC 2006 Election Survey

Sierra Club of Canada submitted its 2006 election survey on environment issues to the five federally funded political parties. The text of the parties full responses can be read by selecting one of the following links:

Bloc Québécois
Conservative Party of Canada
Green Party of Canada
Liberal Party of Canada
New Democratic Party of Canada




SCC Election Survey Questions


1) FUEL ECONOMY

BACKGROUND:
Approximately 30% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. 94% of Canadians want the federal government to improve fuel efficiency of cars through regulation.

QUESTION:
If your party forms the government, will you adopt the California Clean Air greenhouse gas standards that will require new cars to be 33% more fuel efficient by 2015?


2) ASBESTOS

BACKGROUND:
Canada is one of the world's major exporters of chrysotile asbestos, a well documented carcinogen. According to health experts, there are 100,000 excess deaths around the world every year due to asbestos exposure.

QUESTION:
If your party forms the government, will you commit to ending federal funding support for this deadly industry ($700,000 announced in early December 2003) and support instead the just transition of workers?


3) SPECIES AT RISK

BACKGROUND:
Canada’s Species at Risk Act promised to protect species wherever they were found. Yet some of the most desperately endangered species have been excluded from protection. The Minister of Fisheries denied a request for emergency listing of the Sakinaw and Cultis Lake salmon of BC, despite clear scientific evidence that they are endangered. Meanwhile, the spotted owl in BC, Canada's most endangered bird species, continues to decline as the province of British Columbia still allows logging in its suitable habitat. In 2004, the environmental community requested that the federal government implement an emergency order to protect the spotted owl, but the federal government has instead stood by and watched as the remaining spotted owl population plummeted (estimates are now at 6 breeding pairs). It appears that the province and the feds are looking to abdicate their responsibility to protect Canada’s biodiversity by waiting until the spotted owl is deemed unrecoverable.

QUESTION:
If your party forms the government, will you be prepared to use the emergency and safety net provisions of the Act to truly protect endangered species?


4) NUCLEAR SUBSIDIES

BACKGROUND:
Fifty years from 1953-2003, the federal government has given over $17 billion (2001) in subsidies to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a crown corporation. In his 1996 budget, then-finance minister Paul Martin promised to reduce AECL funding to $100 million per year by 1998-99. However, the annual subsidy has remained over the $100 million mark and for the 2004-2005 budget year remained at $163.8 million. As the world increasingly shifts to sustainable electricity programs based on efficiency and renewable energy technologies, nuclear power has entered into a period of long-term decline. AECL has no prospects for reactor sales in the foreseeable future, and its hopes of a revival based on a new and untested reactor design are highly speculative.

QUESTION:
If your party forms the government, will you commit to ending subsidies to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL)?


5) NAFTA

BACKGROUND:
In the last five years, Canada has been at the losing end of a number of challenges under the North American Free Trade Agreement's (NAFTA's) investment provisions (Chapter 11). Due to Chapter 11 challenges, Canada has had to repeal domestic legislation to prohibit a neuro-toxic gasoline additive (in this instance due to a decision to "settle" the matter mid-dispute), and has had to make large cash payments (in the tens of millions) to U.S. based companies.

QUESTION:
If your party forms government, will you commit to a re-negotiation of Chapter 11 and to ensuring no similar provisions in any new trade agreements?


6) KYOTO

BACKGROUND:
Canada's Kyoto commitment is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6% below 1990 levels between 2008-2012. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's most distinguished and authoritative scientific body on the issue of human disruption of the planet's climate, has established that, in order to avoid an atmospheric doubling of concentrations of carbon dioxide, global reductions of carbon dioxide on the order of 60-80% below 1990 levels are required.

QUESTION:
If your party forms government, will you commit to a long term strategy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030?


7) BIOTECH

BACKGROUND:
In the last five years, the federal government has provided $3.7 billion in subsidies to the biotechnology industry.

QUESTION:
If your party forms government, will you commit to a public commission to allow the Canadian public and Canadian Parliament a full debate on whether these subsidies are in the Canadian national interest?


8) PESTICIDES

BACKGROUND:
Seventy-five municipalities have taken the advice of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, Canadian Cancer Society, Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, the Ontario Public Health Association, the Association of Early Childhood Educators in Ontario, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the United Steelworkers of America, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and the Canadian Labor Congress, Federation of Canadian Municipalities and banned or restricted cosmetic pesticide use.

QUESTION:
If your party forms government, will you commit to using the Pest Control Products Act to ban or restrict the use of pesticides with the potential to cause cancer, birth defects, immunological suppression or neurological damage, from use for cosmetic (lawn care) and/or household use, giving every Canadian equal protection?


9) THE OCEANS ACT

BACKGROUND:
The Oceans Act was passed in 1996. It still lacks funds for implementation. Despite its promise to provide comprehensive ecosystem approaches to coastal and ocean management decisions, regional petroleum boards (such as in Nova Scotia) ignore the advice of the scientists in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and allow exploration activities in some of the country's most sensitive and productive marine areas.

QUESTION:
If your party forms government, will you commit to implementation of the Oceans Act with authority superior petroleum boards to allow ecosystem based decisions and the precautionary approach to be respected?


10) ECOLOGICAL FISCAL REFORM

BACKGROUND:
In the last federal budget, a few positive steps were taken toward environmental indicators to assist in the budgetary process. However, overall, our tax system and entrenched subsidies result in perverse signals, encouraging pollution and waste.

QUESTION:
If your party forms government, will you commit to Ecological Fiscal Reform measures such as tax shifting or feebate, and, without raising taxes, realign the fiscal system to tax those things we do not want (pollution) and reward those things we do (innovation and jobs)?


11) HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE

BACKGROUND:
There are now about 40,000 tonnes of high level radioactive waste (used nuclear reactor fuel) at sites in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. This waste remains deadly for hundreds of thousands of years. The Chrétien government ignored the advice of an environmental assessment panel and gave complete control of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to the nuclear industry. At least until a phaseout of nuclear power is achieved, environmental groups favour near-surface monitored and retrievable storage, whereas the nuclear industry support deep geological disposal.

QUESTION: Given the controversial nature of radioactive waste management, will your party support (a) amending the Nuclear Waste Management Act to overhaul the board of the NWMO to include health, safety, and environmental experts?

(b) a full parliamentary debate and free vote on the recommendations of the NWMO and the environmental assessment panel.


12) NATIONAL PARKS

BACKGROUND:
The current government is committed to establishing 10 new national parks and 5 new marine conservation areas by 2008.

QUESTION:
If elected will you complete the national parks system and protect the ecological integrity of existing national parks.


13) CEPA vs. REACH

BACKGROUND:
The European Parliament has recently approved far-reaching legislation which will lead to the safety testing of thousands of chemicals used in everyday products. The law, called Reach - Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals - would create one database including all chemicals used in the EU.
Employers say it will impose heavy costs and cause firms to flee Europe.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act is currently under review.

QUESTION:
If elected will you ensure that the review of CEPA enables it to become a piece of legislation as stringent and able to protect human health and the environment as Europe’s REACH program?


14) TERMINATOR SEEDS

BACKGROUND:
Terminator seeds are genetically engineered to be sterile after first harvest so that farmers cannot save seed but are forced back to the marketplace each season. In February 2005, the Canadian government delegation to the United Nations meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity attempted to overturn the de facto moratorium on Terminator technology. A new national and global Ban Terminator Campaign has been formed to bring forward the voices of farmers, Indigenous peoples and local communities who strongly oppose this technology and want to see national bans and a strengthening of the UN moratorium.

QUESTION
(a) Does your party oppose the field testing and commercialization of Terminator seeds (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies or GURTs)?

(b) Will your party support a strengthening of the de facto moratorium on Terminator technology at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity?





Full text of responses to the SCC 2006 Election Survey





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