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SCC 2006 Election Survey – Liberal Party of Canada

Full text of responses to the
SCC 2006 Election Survey

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

Liberal Party of Canada Response

A Liberal Response to Sierra Club Canada
December 2005 Questionnaire


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?

On April 5, 2005, Canada’s vehicle manufacturers and the Liberal government signed a plan to reduce vehicle emissions. This plan will achieve annual reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions totalling 5.3 megatonnes annually by 2010.  A government-industry monitoring committee will be struck to track and monitor the industry's progress.  The information collected by this committee will be made publicly-available.

In other parts of the world, there are successful examples of other voluntary agreements already in place that served as a model for Canada.  For instance, the European Community has an agreement with vehicle manufacturers for a 25% reduction in vehicle carbon dioxide emissions.  Australia has also recently implemented similar voluntary agreements with its automotive industry. 

On June 1, 2005, the Liberal government announced public transit investments of up to $800 million over the next two years.  These funds are in addition to the $5 billion over five years in gas tax money announced last February.  We recognize that better public transit is a major factor in reducing GHG emissions because public transportation is twice as fuel-efficient as private automobiles, sport-utility vehicles, and light trucks.


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?

While chrysotile asbestos is carcinogenic and is subject to controlled use policy in Canada to ensure that risks are reduced when it is mined and used by workers in Canada, it is recognized as less harmful than other forms of asbestos.  Chrysotile is also a substance of significant social and economic value, particularly in developing countries for use in highly cost-effective water, sewer and residential building applications.

The Rotterdam Convention, an international agreement, is based on the principle that export of a chemical covered by the Convention can only take place with the prior informed consent of the importing party.  The Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure sets out the process for obtaining the decisions of importing countries and making them known to exporting countries.  Other forms of asbestos have already been added to the PIC list.

Canada is a strong supporter of the Rotterdam Convention and the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure to better protect human health and the environment through the sharing of information on hazardous substances amongst nations.  Canada is working with other nations to consider improvements and find ways to strengthen the operations of the Convention so that it will be even more effective at meeting its goals. 


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 new Species at Risk Act (SARA) came into full effect on June 1, 2004. It is a key piece of environmental legislation initiated and passed by the Liberal government. The government budgeted $33 million over the next two years to implement the Act.

SARA calls for recovery strategies to be prepared within one year for all species designated as “endangered” (the highest urgency) according to the COSEWIC list. For species designated as “special concern”, it calls for a management plan to be developed within three years. We are proud of these steps, as they are a significant improvement over the previous provisions for protecting species at risk. We are equally proud of the fact that Aboriginal traditional knowledge is to be included in the expert consultation on species protection.

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) is designed to deliver Canada’s commitment to the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, signed in 1996 with the provinces and territories.

Liberals recognize that while the Species at Risk Act is a collective responsibility of all jurisdictions in Canada, the federal government has the ultimate power to request additional actions. The federal Minister of the Environment has the power to use the discretionary emergency provisions and other last-resort measures.


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

Research and development investments in nuclear energy have made advancements in engineering, food sciences and health research, including cancer treatment.  Investments in fossil fuels are minimizing the impacts of these industries on the environment and improving energy efficiency. 

Nuclear energy has an important role to play in a diversified energy mix.  It provides 13 percent of Canada’s electricity while producing virtually no greenhouse gas emissions. 


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?

The Liberal government has long advocated impartial dispute settlement in its trade and investment agreements.  Canada benefits from predictable rules and effective dispute settlement.  We also benefit from impartial third party interpretation of those rules.  We will continue to work with our NAFTA Partners to promote the clarity and transparency of these rules.  This is a priority.


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 Liberal Party led the successful effort to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in the House of Commons. Canada’s commitment is to a 6 percent reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below 1990 levels. This represents the most challenging target set by any Kyoto signatory. This year we released Phase One of Project Green, called Moving Forward on Climate Change -- a “made in Canada” plan that details sector by sector GHG reduction targets and our plans to meet them.  Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making the transition to a prosperous low-emissions economy will remain one of the main priorities for a Liberal government.

Last week, Canada hosted, in Montreal, the historic United Nations Conference on Climate Change. Under Canada's leadership, this conference brought together over 180 countries to create the Montreal Action Plan (MAP), a clear road map to the world’s future approach to cooperation on climate change. The MAP outlines energy efficiency and innovations in clean technology to promote economic growth without increasing polluting emissions.

In addition to setting the "rule-book" for the Kyoto Protocol making it fully operational for the first time, the MAP also achieved what many claimed was unattainable. It launched a dialogue on long-term cooperative action on climate change that will involve ALL countries in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – including a venue to continue discussions with the United-States.

The Liberal Government is committed to a long term strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by collaborating with the provinces, territories, Aboriginal peoples, the private sector and international partners to develop post-2012 emission reduction strategies. Furthermore, the Prime Minister has asked the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy to develop advice on a long-term strategic energy and climate change policy for Canada that, among other things, considers options for post 2012 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

The Liberal Government will continue to work closely with representatives from the private and academic sectors, as well as with provinces and territories, to continue developing and commercializing technologies, thus enabling Canada to be a world leader in renewable energy.


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?

Whether it’s traditional foods or foods from biotechnology, safety comes first.  The Liberal government is committed to ensuring that biotechnology-derived products are safe for consumers, animals and the environment before these products are allowed in the market place.  The federal government uses a rigorous scientific approach and effective regulation to ensure that all novel foods available in Canada are safe, including foods derived through biotechnology.  Evaluators from the CFIA and Health Canada assess agricultural plants with novel traits, novel feeds, and biotechnology-derived foods for food, livestock feed, and environmental safety. These safety assessments must be done before new products are approved for use in Canada.

The Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee (CBAC) was established in September 1999 by the Liberal government as part of its Canadian Biotechnology Strategy. In creating the CBAC the Liberal government responded to the need for ongoing expert advice on the full range of issues associated with biotechnology and its applications in our society. We know how important it is to engage the people of Canada and to provide them with accurate information that contributes to our understanding of this emerging technology and its implications for Canada.   


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?

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s mandate under the Pest Control Products Act is to prevent unacceptable risks to people and the environment from the use of pest control products. A key approach to pesticide risk reduction is to combine modern health and environmental standards for new products and the re-evaluation of older products while ensuring product efficacy. This is done in addition to developing and promoting the use of Integrated Pest Management strategies. All of these approaches support sustainable pest management, with the ultimate goal of protecting all Canadians from unnecessary exposure to harmful products.


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 Liberal Government recognizes that Canada’s oceans are facing a number of challenges such as the loss of marine habitat, declining biodiversity and the deterioration of fish stocks—including redfish and American plaice stocks exploited in the Northwest Atlantic. In Budget 2005, we committed $28 million over two years to implement Phase I of the Oceans Action Plan, which will focus on improving oceans management and preserving the health of Canada’s oceans. These initiatives constitute an important step toward meeting the commitments made under the Oceans Act and improving the management of ocean ecosystems on a sustainable basis.

10.  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)?

The Liberal Party is in favour of a strategy for a productive, growing economy and a sustainable environment that requires that the government deploy the full range of available policy instruments to maximize its leverage. In the pursuit of environmental goals, this will include regulatory instruments whereby government sets the rules, and markets—producers and consumers—are asked to adapt accordingly. It will encompass voluntary agreements and public expenditure, such as investment in innovation. Importantly, it will also include economic instruments—such as targeted grants and subsidies, and tax measures—that are intended to leverage market forces and to induce efficient, environment-friendly market outcomes.

The Government believes that there may also be merit in the concept of a vehicle “feebate.” A feebate would provide a consumer rebate for fuel-efficient vehicles and impose a fee on fuel-inefficient vehicles. The program could be designed to be revenue neutral for the Government. Over time, a feebate could contribute to the improvement of the fuel efficiency of vehicles purchased in Canada, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality.  To facilitate third-party input, the Government is asking the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) to develop options for a feebate, to consult and to make recommendations to the Government for the next federal budget.

The Government of Canada put in place a range of economic instruments, including tax measures that play an important role in advancing sustainable growth. Budget 2005 proposed several such measures, including a Clean Fund, expansion of the Wind Power Production Incentive and EnerGuide for Houses Retrofit Incentive programs, as well as the acceleration of capital cost allowances for a broadened range of efficient and renewable energy generation equipment.


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.

The Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (2002) was one of the actions responding to the 1998 federal Environmental Assessment Review Panel of AECL’s deep geological disposal concept. The Panel concluded in 1998 that the safety of the AECL concept has been adequately demonstrated from a technical perspective but that the current framework for managing nuclear fuel wastes does not have broad public acceptance.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) released its Final Study Report on the long-term management of used nuclear fuel on November 3, 2005.  The report recommends an adaptive approach which will allow for public input, learning and research to be incorporated in each of three phases:

·      preparing for central used fuel management (years 1-30);

·      implementing central storage and technology demonstrations (years 30-60); and

·      providing long-term containment (years 60-300+).

Although the solutions will be implemented over several generations the intent is to give flexibility to future generations but not transfer the financial burden.  At all times throughout the three major phases the used fuel will be monitored, retrievable, safe and secure. 

In making their recommendation, the NWMO sought to balance objectives of adaptability and security. It believes that the recommended approach provides a strong foundation for managing the risks and uncertainties inherent in the long time frames over which the nuclear fuel must be managed.

More than 18,000 citizens contributed to the NWMO study, including more than 500 specialists in natural and social sciences and technical disciplines. Twenty-five hundred Aboriginal people participated in dialogues organized and delivered by 15 national, regional and local Aboriginal organizations. 

12)  National Parks

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

Canada’s national parks are a symbol of identity and are sacred places where

Canadians connect with nature. While often viewed as pristine, Canada’s national parks have been under pressure from stresses originating both inside and outside their boundaries. In Budget 2003, the Liberal Government invested $75 million over five years and $25 million ongoing to help relieve these pressures and restore the ecological health of the parks. In Budget 2005, the Liberal Government built on these investments by committing an additional $60 million over five years to enhance and expand existing ecological integrity measures.

In order to continue to ensure Canadians are able to experience their national parks in a sustainable fashion, the Liberal Government will also address pressures facing the parks’ physical infrastructure. Budget 2005 invests $209 million over five years for the maintenance and acquisition of capital assets in national parks that mitigate the environmental impacts of daily park operations. This investment will ensure that generations to come will also be able to enjoy the benefits of Canada’s natural heritage. The investment will have a budgetary impact of $39 million over the next five years, reflecting the amortization expense associated with recapitalization of Parks Canada’s assets.

13) CEPA vs. REACH

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 Liberal Government is committed to protecting human life, health and the environment from risks associated with toxic substances. In Budget 2005, we committed $90 million over five years to Health Canada to accelerate actions under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to conduct health risk assessments and research the effects of potentially harmful substances. These measures will reduce the exposure of Canadians to potentially harmful toxins, thereby supporting a reduction in the incidence of cancer and developmental diseases. As well, by demonstrating compliance with high standards of health and environmental protection, the timely assessment and control of substances covered under the CEPA will enable Canadian industry to maintain consumer confidence, facilitate introduction of innovative products into the marketplace and maintain Canadian competitiveness in international markets.

14) Terminator Seeds

(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?

The Liberal government has always supported the recommendation made by the Convention on Biological Diversity, which is a cautious, responsible approach based on case-by-case evaluation of each new variety.  Canada neither promotes nor opposes this technology. It is important to note that at this time, plants with Genetic Use Restriction Technologies traits have neither been planted in field trials nor commercialized in Canada, and exist only in the research and development stage.

Sierra Club of Canada National Office