SCC 2006 Election Survey Green Party of Canada
Sierra Club of Canada submitted its 2006 election survey on environment
issues to the five federally funded political parties. The full
text of the questions can be
read. The text of the Green Party of Canada response follows.
Note: Covering letters which acompanied survey responses have been omitted. The text of party responses is, in all other respects, unaltered.
Green Party of Canada Response
1) FUEL ECONOMY
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.
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?
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government and automakers contributes only 2 per cent of the emission reductions needed for Kyoto when personal cars and trucks made in Canada are actually responsible for 10 per cent of Canada’s total emissions. Green Party MPs would support local and regional car-sharing programs and enforce a mandatory target of 25 per cent better fuel efficiency for the automobile industry while increasing standards over the next 5 years to meet and exceed the California Clean Air standards by 2015.
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.
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?
Our bodies have become chemical stockpiles for hundreds of toxins that are not properly regulated by the federal government. The Green Party would eliminate the use of the most toxic chemicals by 2008. The Green Party does not accept the federal government’s inaction in protecting the health of Canadians. The Green Party would Commission Health Canada to do a nationwide body burden study identifying the presence of carcinogens, neurotoxins, hormone disruptors, and the toxicity levels of Canadians.
3) SPECIES AT RISK
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.
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?
The Green Party would also strengthen and enforce Canada’s Species at Risk Act in partnership with the provinces and territories to protect all species at risk and their habitats. Green Party MPs would expand in partnership with provinces, territories, and aboriginal peoples Canada’s network of land, freshwater and marine protected areas for the maintenance of biological diversity and ecosystem health. Finally, the Green Party would ban bottom dragging and lead efforts for a global ban on harmful fishing practices.
4) NUCLEAR SUBSIDIES
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.
If your party forms the government, will you commit to ending subsidies to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL)?
Not only would the Green Party end subsidies to Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, the Green Party would also rescind all uranium-mining permits and prohibit the export of fissionable nuclear material. This is party of our overall strategy to promote life-cycle product stewardship of minerals to ensure full-cost accounting.
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.
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?
NAFTA essentially puts the rights of foreign companies over those of Canada. It limits our sovereignty and can paralyze our government's will to enact new environmental and human rights laws. Specifically, Chapter 11 of NAFTA has weakened the government's ability to regulate harmful industries. With 80 percent of our international trade with the United States, sound environmental protection should have been an essential component of NAFTA and must be revisited in order to establish protection for the health and well being of Canadians. The Green Party would renegotiate trade agreements to include tariffs that protect human rights and the environment and would terminate investor-state dispute mechanisms.
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.
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?
The Green Party would address the problem of climate change at its source by immediately ending subsidies to the oil and gas sector and apply mandatory emission targets while encouraging clean energy technology. For example, the Green Party would work with provinces and municipalities to expand Canadian wind power potential beyond 10,000 MW by 2010. The Green Party would also protect our natural carbon reserves (oceans, forests, soil) and enforce tough new legislation to ensure energy conservation and efficiency measures that will drive down energy prices. Green Party MPs would make Canada a leader in international efforts to reduce emissions through international cooperation and trade agreements.
In the last five years, the federal government has provided $3.7 billion in subsidies to the biotechnology industry.
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?
Green Party MPs would shift government-supported research away from biotechnology and energy-intensive farming and toward organic food production and pass a law that forbids the patenting of life forms and makes biotech developers of genetically engineered crops liable for damage such crops might cause.
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.
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?
Pesticides that release powerful carcinogens and cause reproductive problems are still widely used and unregulated. The Green Party would prohibit the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes and would ban all non-natural pesticides and insecticides by the year 2010 and provide alternatives for farmers.
9) THE OCEANS ACT
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.
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?
The Green Party would fundamentally change the management of fisheries by redefining the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s mandate to protect and conserve wild fisheries, introducing adaptive ecosystem and community-based methods that support sustainable fisheries. The Green Party would also discontinue drilling and exploration in ecologically sensitive areas including offshore areas and the Arctic and fast-trace the establishment of marine protected areas.
10) ECOLOGICAL FISCAL REFORM
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.
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)?
We can shift to a competitive green economy by employing ecological fiscal reforms (EFR) and freeing markets that are crushed under the weight of bloated multinational monopolies. The Green Party would move towards representing health, environmental and social costs in the prices of goods and services through revenue-neutral taxes on pollution and waste. The Green Party would begin a partial, gradual, revenue neutral tax shift from income, consumption and business taxes to resource use taxes, pollution taxes and land value levies. Finally, we can redefine economic well-being with more revealing economic indicators that take a broader approach to measuring our success as a country. Green Party MPs will work to pass the Canada Well-Being Measurement Act and implement the Canadian Index of Well-being
11) HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE
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?
The risks of deep geological storage sites are too great for future generations in Canada to manage. It’s a debt we would be placing on generations longer into the future than humans have walked the earth. The Green Party is aware that Canada rates near last place in all OECD categories for toxic chemicals including nuclear waste (overall rated 30th out of 30 industrialized countries). Green Party MPs would therefore push to create new regulations around protecting citizens and ecosystems from radioactive waste disposal sites and work to phase out nuclear energy production immediately.
(b) a full parliamentary debate and free vote on the recommendations of the NWMO and the environmental assessment panel.
The nuclear energy sector has left a legacy of used nuclear fuel, which will need to be managed over hundreds of human generations. Therefore the Green Party of Canada believes that a decision on how to manage this legacy needs to involve as many Canadians as possible, and not just the Canadians living near possible storage sites. Therefore, even though the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act authorizes the Governor in Council to “make a decision on the choice of approach for long-term management of nuclear fuel waste” (appendix 2 NWMO report), the Green Party of Canada urges the Prime Minister and Natural Resources Minister to involve the whole of the House of Commons in this important discussion and decision.
12) National Parks
The current government is committed to establishing 10 new national parks and 5 new marine conservation areas by 2008.
If elected will you complete the national parks system and protect the ecological integrity of existing national parks.
The Green Party would also expand, in partnership with provinces, territories, and aboriginal peoples, Canada’s network of land, freshwater and marine protected areas for the maintenance of biological diversity and ecosystem health. Green Party MPs would provide Parks Canada with the funding necessary to protect the ecological integrity of Canada’s National Parks and, working with provinces, establish compatible-use buffer zones around national parks.
13) CEPA vs. REACH
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
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?
The Green Party would re-focus the Canadian Environmental Protection Act on pollution prevention. To support a larger regulatory mandate, Green Party MPs would amend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to enshrine the right of future Canadians to an ecological heritage that includes breathable air and drinkable water. The Green Party would also make industry accountable for its chemicals and impose significant pollution taxes on harmful chemicals until they can be eliminated. Finally, the Green Party would mandate a CEPA taskforce to focus on pollution reduction in the Great Lakes basin, create a Clean Canada Fund to clean up toxic sites, and ban the incineration of imported toxic waste.
14) Terminator Seeds
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.
(a) Does your party oppose the field testing and commercialization of Terminator seeds (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies or GURTs)?
The Green Party would reform the regulatory environment of agriculture to challenge corporate concentration, eliminate international dumping and subsidies, and promote seed saving by farmers.
(b) Will your party support a strengthening of the de facto moratorium on Terminator technology at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity?
The Green Party would put pressure on Parliament to sign and implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.