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2008 Election Survey – Green Party of Canada

Full text of responses to the
SCC 2008 Election Survey


Bloc Québécois
Conservative Party of Canada - did not respond
• Green Party of Canada
Liberal Party of Canada
New Democratic Party of Canada


Sierra Club Canada and Greenpeace Canada submitted their 2008 election survey on environment issues to the five federally funded political parties. The full text of the questions can be read. The parties responses are both summarized in a grid and reproduced in full. 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

Question 1

Climate and Energy
KYOTOplus

Greenpeace, Sierra Club Canada and 30 other Canadian organizations have joined forces to build a national consensus for urgent policy action on climate change.  Part of the campaign is to ask every candidate in this election to sign the KYOTOplus Pledge
which calls on them to “work to ensure that Canada honours its Kyoto commitment and sets a national target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25%, relative to the 1990 level, by 2020.” 
 
Q: Will your party support the KYOTOplus objectives and targets for reductions in emissions?

Yes

Comment:

The commitment of the Green Party to Kyoto targets is not nullified even if full compliance is impossible.  It is based on respect for international commitments and to the overwhelming scientific evidence that far deeper cuts will be required soon. The original Kyoto framework, though an effective starting point, must be followed up with long term planning to drastically reduce our carbon emissions in the decades to come. 

The Green Party will reaffirm Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto framework and further medium and long term targets:

            - 6% below 1990 by 2012 = 570 MT = 29% below today’s 800 MT
            - 30% below 1990 by 2020 = 425 MT = 47% below today’s 800 MT
            - 50% below 1990 by 2030 = 304 MT = 62% below today’s 800 MT
            - 80% below 1990 by 2040 = 121 MT = 85% below today’s 800 MT
            - 5-yearly interim targets

Under a Green Government, Canada will work with other nations to achieve the development of a new global Kyoto Treaty (Kyoto 2) with the targets outlined throughout our Vision Green policy document. We would also support the development of Kyoto’s clean development mechanisms focused on verifiable greenhouse gas reductions in developing nations. We would work to include China, India, the United States and all other nations in Kyoto 2.

Question 2

Climate and Energy
Nuclear Phaseout
 
It is essential for Canada to develop a comprehensive plan to phase out the use of nuclear energy, recognizing that it is irresponsible for us to generate more highly radioactive waste – toxic waste that will be radioactive for millennia, placing an unfair burden on future generations of Canadians.

Q: Will your party support a comprehensive plan with a firm timeline for the phase-out of nuclear power in Canada? 

Yes

Comment:

Nuclear energy is simply not a viable source of energy for a sustainable Canadian economy. The Green Party will work with the provinces to phase out existing nuclear power, to stem the buildup of nuclear wastes, and to institute a Canada wide moratorium on uranium mining and refining. The end result of these measures will be to make Canada a nuclear free zone in the near future.

Question 3

Climate and Energy
Nuclear Subsidies

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is the federal crown corporation that designs and markets CANDU reactors and other nuclear technology.   It has received over $20 billion in federal subsidies since it was founded in 1952. AECL has received over $200 million in federal subsidies to design a new reactor - the Advanced CANDU reactor.  The Canadian nuclear industry is currently asking for hundreds of millions in additional subsidies to secure the sale of the prototype reactor to Ontario.  Over its 50 year history AECL has only managed to sell one reactor design, the CANDU-6. 

Q: Will your party end subsidies to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and refuse to provide Ontario with subsidies to purchase the Advanced Candu Reactor? 

Yes

Comment: 

The Green Party is committed to an end of all Nuclear energy production within Canada’s borders, and as such would end all financial subsidies to AECL or similar nuclear development projects. In the short term, a Green government would also demand that the operations of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and AECL are transparent and at arms length from government and require the disclosure of the minutes of all meetings with AECL to ensure all compliance regulations are adhered to.

Question 4

Climate and Energy
Alberta Tar Sands

By 2020, the tar sands are expected to emit more than 141 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year—more than what all motor vehicles currently emit in Canada.  Several people downstream of the tar sands already have been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and other auto-immune disorders that are likely to be a result of pollution from upstream tar Sands operations.
 
Q: Will your party support a moratorium on new Tar Sands projects? 

Yes

Comment:
 
It is urgent that the Canadian government actually set real targets for emissions reductions, with measurable objectives and put in place the resources to deliver on those goals.  Recent history makes it clear that purely voluntary efforts do not work.  Recent history also demonstrates that policies must be consistently applied. For example, it is not possible to reduce greenhouse gases while providing massive subsidies to expanding the production to the planet’s most carbon-intensive oil – crude from the Athabasca tar sands. Thus the Green Party would implement a moratorium on new tar sands development. The Green Party is not prepared to sacrifice the climate, ecological sustainability and social stability on the altar of corporate profits.
 
Question 5

Food and Agriculture
Genetically Engineered Food 

Public opinion research indicates that over 80% of Canadians want mandatory labelling for Genetically Engineered (GE) food, and 40 countries have a mandatory labeling system. The federal government adopted “voluntary” labelling in April 2004, and until today Canadian consumers have not seen a single label telling them that food contain GE ingredients.

Q: Will your party propose legislated mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods in the next parliament and agree to an immediate moratorium on the approval of all new GE crops and foods until the government’s procedure for GE risk assessment has been reviewed and strengthened to meet strict scientific standards based on the precautionary principle? 

Yes

Comment:

The current uncertainty surrounding potentially harmful GE crops must be dealt with in a comprehensive fashion that allows all those involved to have the ability to react accordingly. Thus the Green party of Canada believes in a multi-tiered approach to regulation, allowing local farms, communities and the provinces input into what is planted in their fields.

Thus the Green Party would:
I. Ban experimentation with, planting and promotion of new GE crops. This includes a ban on further GE research at Agriculture Canada and a ban on companies such as Monsanto owning patents to GE products developed through joint research with Agriculture Canada.
II. Implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a protocol within the U.N. Biodiversity Convention, which Canada signed and ratified in 1992 and which came into force in 2003. The Cartagena Protocol requires the adoption of new products to be guided by the precautionary principle, which balances the economic benefits of innovation with public health and ecological integrity.
III. Support local, provincial and territorial GE organism free zones where these local jurisdictions declare that genetically modified plants and animals are not part of the agricultural mix.
IV. Prohibit field testing, commercial use, sale and importation of “terminator” (genetic use restriction technologies).
V. Maintain the ban on GE wheat.
VI. Place a moratorium on field testing genetically modified trees while an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada examines the risks.

Question 6

Oceans
National Marine Reserves

Less than 0.5% of Canada’s oceans are protected, despite clear scientific evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of reserves in protecting marine resources including fisheries. Although Canada has plans to create a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2012, it is far from being a leader when it comes to the amount of ocean area protected. Canada lags behind all other developed countries, when we consider the financial resources invested.

Q: Will your party support the creation of a representative network of Marine Protected Areas including 25% in Marine Reserves (no-take zones) in Canadian waters by 2012, and support a long-term goal of putting aside 40% of the international high seas in Marine Reserves? 

Yes

Comment: 

The Green Party is deeply concerned by the fact that Canada’s marine territories have gone neglected for too long. As recent history has demonstrated with the collapse of the Cod fishery and as well as the wanton destruction reaped by many shipping practices, Canada is in real jeopardy of losing much of it’s coastal habitat. Definitive action must be taken to preserve these ecological wonders and a Green government will:

I. Fast track the establishment of “no-take” marine protected areas.  Consultation with fisheries communities and sectors is essential drawing on experience from New Zealand and elsewhere where “no-take” areas actually improved the economically viable fisheries;
2. Extend, in partnership with provinces, territories, and aboriginal peoples, Canada’s network of land, freshwater and marine protected areas and linking them up with provincial and territorial protected areas wherever possible, and establishing compatible-use buffer zones around national parks for the maintenance of natural biological diversity and ecosystem health; and,
3. Establish a National Park Completion Budget of $500 million annually to meet the goal of completing our National Parks and Marine Protected Areas Systems by 2015.

Question 7

Water
National Water Policy 

Canada houses only a small fraction of the world’s renewable freshwater resources (6.5%), and an even smaller fraction of this (2.5%) is geographically accessible without harmful large-scale water diversions. As well, invasive species, persistent organic pollutants, endocrine disrupters and groundwater depletion all have an impact on our water supplies. The allowance of bulk water exports and diversions also threatens our water resources. We cannot continue to take our water resources for granted in the face of global warming. Clean and abundant water is essential to ensuring the health of Canadians and the health of our economy.

Q: Will your party develop a comprehensive Canada-wide water strategy in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, First Nations, and community organizations by 2010, including a Sustainable Water Act that will conserve water through such measures as national appliance water efficiency standards, enhanced prohibitions on bulk water exports, and legally-binding federal standards for drinking-water quality and sewage treatment? 

Yes

Comment:

The Green Party has been a firm supporter of "Changing the Flow: A Blueprint for Federal Action on Freshwater" compiled by the Gordon Water Group of Concerned Citizens and Scientists. As such, the Green Party will undertake the report's seven priorities to (1) Enhance National Capacity for Freshwater Protection, (2) Respond to the Impacts of Climate Change and Energy Production, (3) Secure Safe Drinking Water for All Canadians, (4) Protect Aquatic Ecosystems and Aboriginal Water Rights, (5) Promote a Culture of Water Conservation, (6) Prevent Inter-jurisdictional Conflicts and Bulk Water Exports, and (7) Develop World Class Water Science. The Green Party will also amend the Charter of Rights and freedoms to include the right to drinkable water and breathable air. Furthermore, the Green Party will increase Canadian aid for access to basic water requirements and sanitation consistent with the Millennium Development Goals.
 
Question 8

Water
Preserving Natural Lakes
 
A current loophole in the federal Fisheries Act allows healthy natural lakes to be re-designated as tailings impoundment areas - dumps for toxic mining waste - under Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMERs) section. There are other,
safer options for disposal of mining tailings, ones which don’t threaten freshwater ecosystems or groundwater quality.

Q: Will your party protect Canada’s lakes and groundwater sources by working to ensure that no more lakes end up on the MMERs list under Schedule 2 of the Fisheries Act? 

Yes

Comment:

The Green Party has strongly opposed the dumping of toxic wastes in Canadian lakes by the mining industry. In June 2008, the Green Party formally urged Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and Fisheries and Oceans Minister, Loyola Hearn, to reverse the precarious move to reclassify some Canadians lakes as toxic dumpsites. The reclassification will also adversely affect Aboriginal people as many Aboriginal communities are located near affected lakes, this must be stopped.

Question 9

Biodiversity
Species at Risk

Canada’s endangered species and other species at risk are not adequately protected because the federal Species at Risk Act is not being fully implemented. Action plans for recovery are in place for less than 1% of Canada’s listed species at risk. 

Q: Will your party support accelerating the implementation of the Species at Risk Act by implementing, by 2009, recovery strategies and action plans that identify and protect habitat for all species listed before 2008? 

Yes       

Comment:

Globally our wealth of species is being lost at an astounding rate. Canada’s rich heritage of wildlife is disappearing. While Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), proclaimed in 2003, has some redeeming qualities, overall its flaws make it ineffective in protecting Canada’s threatened species. It provides basic protection only for species on federal lands—about 5 percent of the lands in Canada. It lets the federal cabinet rather than COSEWIC (the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) scientists decide on which species are on the “species at risk” list. Habitat protection and recovery plans are voluntary.

The legal listing of species at risk has become more political and less scientific each year. Cultus Lake sockeye salmon were not listed to avoid “significant socio-economic impacts on sockeye fishers and coastal communities.”. Eight aquatic species recommended by COSEWIC were not listed by the Federal Cabinet in 2006.  Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said it was “to ensure that we don’t negatively affect the fishing industry.”

The Green Party believes in the conservation of species diversity as an essential part of a healthy environment. To do this we must strengthen the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and make it an effective tool that actually protects endangered species and their habitats everywhere in Canada including all federal, provincial, territorial, First Nations and private lands. We envision an Act that includes powers to enforce prescribed measures to protect species at risk and stop acts of non-compliance. We believe the COSEWIC scientists should have the final say on the designation of threatened species and not have its recommendations subject to Cabinet approval, a condition that greatly weakens COSEWIC’s power and ability to protect species at risk.

Question 10

Biodiversity
Wild Spaces

Few places in the world can still boast the kinds of wild spaces – and wild species – that can be found from coast to coast to coast in Canada. In the face of rapidly accelerating climate change and other threats, Canada needs to move fast to secure this natural legacy by permanently protecting a minimum of 50% of our remaining wild areas.

Q: Is your party committed to:  • support a significant increase in the amount of protected areas in Canada, especially in large intact forests such as the Canadian Boreal Forest and Arctic ecosystems by establishing interconnected networks of protected areas and implementing regional land-use plans before approving any large- scale industrial projects, including the Mackenzie Gas Project and new Tar Sands expansion. 

By 2009, announce a funded plan to complete and manage Canada’s network of National Parks, National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries?

Yes

The Green Party is committed to reversing the disappointing recent trend of the federal government to devalue park protection, with firm and unwavering action to protect existing parks and expand our terrestrial and marine park systems. We must rapidly establish “no-take” marine parks as a last chance to save our vast tracts of critically threatened and over-fished coastlines.

Green Party MPs will:
I.  Re-commit to the completion the National Parks system that consists of a representative network of Canada’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems, setting a target date of 2015 with emphasis on:
i. Extending, in partnership with provinces, territories, and aboriginal peoples, Canada’s network of land, freshwater and marine protected areas and linking them up with provincial and territorial protected areas wherever possible, and establishing compatible-use buffer zones around national parks for the maintenance of natural biological diversity and ecosystem health; and
ii. Providing Parks Canada with the funding necessary to protect the ecological integrity of Canada’s National Parks.
   
II. Establish a National Park Completion Budget of $500 million annually to meet the goal of completing our National Park and Marine Protected Areas Systems by 2015.
   
III. Implement the recommendations of conservation scientists for effective action to preserve:
         i. Critically threatened habitats;
         ii. Keystone species, endangered species, or species of commercial or cultural value, especially those of First Nations value;
         iii. Habitats specifically threatened by global-warming; and,
         iv. Continuous interconnected tracts of habitat for wide-range migrating species sufficient to maintain viable populations.
 
IV. Advocate the purchase of private land, where necessary, to help protect critical habitats especially of endangered species.
 
V. Increase monitoring and protection efforts, including park rangers and guides with interpretation skills to educate Canadians and visitors on the vast beauty and value within our National Parks.

Question 11

Toxic Pollution
Health and the Environment
 
Environmental contaminants in our air, water, and food are having an enormous negative impact on the health of Canadians. Health Canada estimates that the direct health care costs and lost productivity caused by environmental factors add up to
between $46 billion and $52 billion a year.

Q: Will your party work in Parliament to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to implement the recommendations of the April 2007 all-party report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development? This includes placing the onus on companies to show that chemicals are safe, rather than the current onus on government to demonstrate harm, and requiring prompt and meaningful action to limit human exposure to a substance when scientific evidence shows it to be toxic. 

Yes     

Comment:

The Green Party of Canada believes that CEPA should require for the onus to be on industry to show that the products they produce are safe, contrary to the current onus on government to demonstrate harm from these products.  An industry onus is a key feature of the new REACH system for regulating chemicals in the European Union, entered into force June 1st, 2007.  Europe is the largest chemicals market in the world.  There is every reason for Canada to follow their lead.

Question 12
 
Toxic Pollution
Air Pollution
 
According to a recent report from the Canadian Medical Association, an estimated 700,000 Canadians will die prematurely over the next two decades because of illnesses caused by poor air quality.

Q: Will your party be prepared to, by 2008, set national and regional emissions reduction targets for harmful pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter, based on stringent air-quality standards that protect both the environment and human health, especially the health of vulnerable populations? 

Yes

Comment:

The Green Party knows that regulating to reduce the precursors of smog (particulates, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide) as well as to reduce serious neuro-toxic contamination of air with mercury is necessary and is immediately possible within the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Regulating to reduce these contaminants must be coupled with reducing the burning of fossil fuels that emits particulates as well as climate-warming greenhouse gases (GHGs). Measures to meet Kyoto targets by reducing reliance on fossil fuels will have important benefits in avoiding ever worsening heat impacts and these contaminants.

The Green Party will strengthen the Canadian Environmental Protection Act with specific and strong regulations to reduce particulates, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and other airborne contaminants.

Question 13

Democracy
Environmental Bill of Rights
 
Currently, many Canadian health and environmental laws and policies are weaker than corresponding laws in other nations. Canadians need a strong Environmental Bill of Rights, to protect us from toxins and other environmental hazards.

Q: Will your party support the passage of an Environmental Bill of Rights that would: establish the right of citizens to a healthy environment; establish a duty of public trust on the part of the federal government to manage and protect the environment for the benefit of current and future generations; allow Canadians to take action against the federal government for any breach of its public trust duty; guarantee reasonable access to environmental information so that citizens make informed decisions; establish a right for citizens to participate in environmental decision-making? 

Yes

Comment: 

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Canadians are being short-changed on environmental protections. Government after government has failed to implement the necessary safe-guards to protect Canadians from the impacts of environmental mismanagement. Canada needs to adopt a principled document that outlines the right of Canadians to a healthy environment. The Green Party therefore supports the creation of an environmental bill of rights.

Question 14

Sustainable Economy
Putting a Price on Carbon

Today, Canadians recognize that the economy and the environment are two sides of the same coin. One reason we have entrenched environmental problems like poor air quality and accelerating climate change is that government policy sends the wrong economic signals. Our tax policies often subsidize economic behaviour that damages the environment and the climate by propping up damaging development – such as in the tar sands – instead of driving investment in more sustainable approaches. These old policies are both economically costly and environmentally unsustainable.

Q: Will your party institute carbon pricing through carbon taxes and/or a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions and use the proceeds to finance further actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while supporting low-income Canadians and immediately shortening the phase-out period for the accelerated capital cost allowance for the tar-sands industry? 

Yes

Comment:
The Green Party of Canada is committed to a multi-faceted approach to lowering our carbon emissions. While other parties bicker over the merits of either cap-and-trade or a carbon tax, the Green Party has committed itself to implementing the best of both, combining cap-and-trade and a carbon tax to produce the best result for Canadians. Thus a Green government would:

I. Adopt carbon taxes, immediate price of $50/tonne of CO2e, measure impact and if required to achieve target reductions then increase up to $100/tonne of CO2e (the price the Stern Review put on the cost of climate change) by 2020. Carbon tax revenues will be used to reduce other taxes in a way that offsets any negative impact on low and middle income Canadians including support to senior citizens.
 
II. Adopt carbon cap and trade and a carbon market. Establish a cap and trade CO2e ceiling for Large Final Emitters (large industry), with a market price for carbon as soon as possible. Auction and trading of CO2e allocations will be overseen by non-governmental body. Large Final Emitters produce around 50% of our total emissions. They include companies in mining, manufacturing, oil, gas, and thermal electricity. Their contribution today is around 400 MT. Based on today’s emissions, we should propose caps as follows:

                        2012:  115 MT reduction (29% below today)
                        2020:   186 MT reduction (47% below today)
                        2030:   250 MT reduction (62% below today)
                        2040:   340 MT reduction (85% below today)

Question 15

Sustainable Economy
Nuclear Liability
 
Under the current Nuclear Liability Act, Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for most of the public liability associated with private nuclear installations. 

Q: Will your party support a Nuclear Accountability Plan that includes legislation requiring full cost accounting of nuclear energy; fully shifts the liability and cost of insurance for nuclear power and long term waste disposal facilities onto electricity rates; and eliminates all direct and indirect taxpayer subsidies to nuclear energy?
 
Yes  

Comment:
The Green Party believes that choices should be economically rational.  The best energy choices to respond to the climate crisis should be those that deliver the greatest reduction of GHG per dollar invested.  By this criterion, nuclear energy is among the very worst options.  Reactors cost billions of dollars, take more than a decade to build, operate unreliably after about the first dozen years of operation, and only produce one type of energy: electricity.  Even if the industry were “green and clean” as claimed by the pro-nuclear propaganda efforts, it fails on the economics.  Nevertheless, it is neither clean nor green.
Each gigawatt of nuclear energy requires 170 tonnes of uranium. When the uranium is processed into fuel, 250,000 tonnes of carbon are emitted for every 1000 megawatts produced. Nuclear energy produces huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

The Green Party will seek an amendment to the Nuclear Liability Act, increasing maximum insured liabilities from $75 million to $13 billion (the amount for which reactors are insured in the United States). Consequently, federal legislation will no longer limit the liability of the nuclear industry to a minuscule portion of potential costs of a nuclear accident.

We would:
-Work with Provinces to phase out existing nuclear power, to stem the buildup of nuclear wastes, and to institute a Canada wide moratorium on uranium mining and refining.

-Call for the federal government to stop subsidizing all phases of the nuclear industry and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and stop promoting CANDU reactors. Federal insurance will no longer cover the risk of nuclear accidents. 

-Demand that the operations of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and AECL are transparent and at arms length from government and require the disclosure of the minutes of all meetings with AECL.



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