Sierra Club of Canada PublicationsContact UsSearchHome
Sierra Club of Canada Program Areas Get Involved Media About Us Chapters
Sierra Club of Canada

Our Programs
    Atmosphere & Energy  
    Health & Environment  
    Protecting Biodiversity  
    Transition to a Sustainable Economy  

Take Action
Join Us Today!

2008 Election Survey – New Democratic 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 New Democratic 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.

New Democratic Party Response

Question 1

Climate and Energy

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?

In April, Jack Layton signed on to the Kyoto plus pledge and continues to stand firm in his
commitment to achieve its goals. Jack Layton and the New Democrats have a long track record
of working for these goals.

In January 2005, Jack Layton became the first and only national leader to table an achievable
Kyoto Plan to meet Canada’s obligations under that climate change treaty.

Passed on June 4, over Stephen Harper’s objections, Layton’s Kyoto Plus Bill (C-377) sets the
national emissions targets and timelines that scientists advise to fight dangerous global warming.

Once the Senate passes this bill, the federal government must meet these targets and
timelines—or stand in contempt of Canadian law. The targets include:

  • By 2020: 25% reduction of emissions below 1990 levels.
  • By 2050: 80% reduction of emissions below 1990 levels.
  • NOW: Interim targets every five years, with public progress reporting.

A New Democrat government will implement Jack Layton’s legislation and set penalties for those
who contravene regulations passed under the Act.

In addition to passing this important Kyoto Plus legislation, Canada’s New Democrats have
proposed a “cap-and-trade” system to make big polluters cut their emissions and pay for what
they do emit. Revenues generated from “cap-and-trade” would be invested in affordable green
solutions—such as greener cars—to help the rest of us emit less.

Our plan will invest stable, annual transit funding, combining an extra cent from the existing gas
tax with revenue from making big polluters pay, investing $4 billion in transit over the first four
years of our program.
A crucial part of reducing pollution and fighting global warming must be substantial new
investments in renewable energy solutions. The NDP will establish an industry innovation fund to
help businesses reduce their energy use. The fund will start with $600 million, and we will invest
additional funds after that.

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? 

Canada’s New Democrats do not support nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is dangerous,
prohibitively expensive and far from a solution to climate change.

At the NDP convention in the fall of 2006, our Party adopted a comprehensive resolution on
energy policy. The resolution not only recognizes the need for a secure supply of energy to meet
our needs, but takes into consideration the social and environmental impact of our current
consumption and sources and promotes sustainable development.

Included in this policy resolution is a commitment to the development of a thriving renewable
energy industry in Canada, particularly wind and tidal stream turbines and solar panel production
to meet domestic needs and the export market, by all means possible including the creation of a
Crown Corporation to assist community, commercial and industrial interests and help with
research and development.

In addition to promoting greener energy, Canada’s New Democrats have been consistent and
constructive in using all the means at our disposal to bring about real action on climate change.
This would include a shift in subsidies from dirty energy to clean energy, and a commitment to
ensure that industry accepts its fair share of responsibility for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
We agree with everyday Canadians who tell us that this is a serious issue and that we can’t allow
the environment to further deteriorate.

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? 

For the reasons described above, Jack Layton and the New Democrats do not support nuclear
energy initiatives or subsidies of any kind. Thus, New Democrats would not support subsidies to
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) or to Ontario for the purchase of the Advanced Candu

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? 

A New Democrat government will halt new tar sands development until emissions are capped,
significant environmental and health impacts are addressed, and protected areas are set aside.
We will also stop the massive tax breaks and subsidies to the tar sands, big oil and gas
companies, and nuclear power.

If oil sands development is to proceed we must put into place the right measures to ensure
sustainable development which protects the environment and an appropriate infrastructure. We
will improve and enforce appropriate federal regulation of all environmental impacts – air, water,
land, fish and wildlife – that arise from the exploitation of Canada’s oil and gas reserves.
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? 

New Democrats have long pushed for implementing mandatory labelling for genetically
engineered food. Our Party has a comprehensive policy resolution on genetically engineered food
that addresses the need for labelling, farmers' rights against patents and copyrights along with
greater control over the activities of large corporations.

New Democrat MP Alex Atamanenko introduced legislation, Private Member’s Bill C-456, An Act
to Amend the Food and Drugs Act on mandatory labelling for genetically modified foods.
Atamanenko also launched a cross-country tour on Food Security aimed at raising awareness
and having Canadians contribute to the national debate on how consumers can make informed
and healthy food choices.

New Democrat MP Paul Dewar has also introduced Private Member’s Bill C-510, An Act
respecting the labelling of food products that requires the mandatory labelling of the use of
hormones, antibiotics or rendered slaughterhouse waste in meat and poultry products, and the
use of pesticides or genetically modified organisms in all food products.

Question 6

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? 

Canada’s three oceans have a special place within our history, culture and our livelihoods. New
Democrats will work in Parliament to make sure Ottawa gets serious about protecting Canada’s
natural heritage by establishing a nationally representative system of Marine Protected areas and
complete the Integrated Management Plans of our three oceans.

In the last parliament, we stood up for our waterways and oceans by proposing a sustainable
marine policy which opposed Conservative legislation (Bill C-32) that seeks to further privatize
fish resources.

Looking forward, New Democrats will continue to push for sustainability and environmentally
sound practices for our fisheries and oceans. We will provide national and international
leadership to prevent build-up and counteract the harmful effects of marine debris, and provide
the resources to ensure existing legislation regarding oily bilge water discharge and management will be effectively enforced. We will also implement the National Action Plan on Aquatic Invasive Species and ensure that acceptable treatment for ballast water is implemented and enforced.

Question 7

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? 

Canada’s New Democrats have consistently called on successive Liberal and Conservative
governments to develop a robust National Water Policy. First and foremost, New Democrats
believe that the access to clean water is not a privilege but a human right for all Canadians and
people world-wide. Canadians are concerned that our government helped to block the United
Nations Human Rights Council from recognizing water as a basic human right.

In the last parliament, Jack Layton’s New Democrats tabled a Clean Water Act proposing national
standards ensuring safe drinking water for all Canadians, urban and rural, on First Nations
reserves and off.

Moving forward, New Democrats will implement this legislation, establishing enforceable
guidelines for drinking water quality, starting with standards for First Nations reserves, and
working with provinces and territories to make sure that all Canadians have clean, safe water in
their homes and communities.

We will improve water quality monitoring and the enforcement of water quality standards by
funding and implementing a National Water Strategy, including a comprehensive Water Quality
Audit, to ensure a minimum of secondary treatment for all Canadian municipalities. In addition,
we will create a $10 million Safe Water Fund to address issues of emerging pollutants and help
communities monitor water quality.

New Democrats also share your concerns and have always opposed, bulk water exports. We
want to ensure that NAFTA excludes water and bulk water exports from its scope. In the 2007
spring session, Parliament voted 134 to 108 in favour of a motion to prevent bulk water exports.
The motion came about due to the New Democrat push to have hearings on the impact of the so-
called Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP).

Question 8

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? 

Over the last two years, New Democrats have consistently demanded that the Conservative
government put an end to the dumping of toxic mine tailings into our lakes.
Indeed, the NDP exposed loopholes that allow mining companies to use healthy lakes as tailing

In February 2008, New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer introduced a bill, C-504 An Act to amend the
Fisheries Act (deposit in lakes), that would prohibit mining companies or other industries from
using lakes as dumping grounds for toxic substances. The bill restricts the deposit of any quantity
or concentration of a deleterious substance in lakes.

Question 9

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? 

Canada’s New Democrats remain committed to policies that protect the natural environment and
the creatures in it. We believe that it is necessary to have strong advocates in Parliament to
pressure the federal government to take action on initiatives to protect animals, and in the
community at large to help with public education.

We have supported and strengthened Canada’s Species at Risk Act, we have called on the
government to implement tougher cruelty against animals legislation, and we have fought for
protections for our natural environment.

New Democrats will work with the provinces and territories to encourage research and develop
strategies to minimize the effects of climate change on communities, vegetation and wildlife.

Our team will establish a conservation fund to preserve important natural wildlife habitat, and
continue to improve Canada’s environmental rules regarding endangered species so that politics
does not trump best available science when it comes to our responsibility for species that are at

Question 10

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?

A New Democrat government will implement a parks and wilderness plan that reflects Canadians’ strong commitment to preserve our natural heritage. We will:

  • Complete the National Parks system.
  • Establish a nationally representative system of Marine Protected areas and complete the
    Integrated Management Plans of our three oceans.
  • Ensure that the integrity of parks and protected areas is not compromised by industrial
    activity or inappropriate development.
  • Establish a conservation fund to preserve important natural wildlife habitat.
  • Improve endangered species protection.
  • Work with the provinces and territories to encourage research and develop strategies to
    minimize the effects of climate change on communities, vegetation and wildlife.
  • Implement the National Action Plan on Aquatic Invasive Species and ensure that
    acceptable treatment for ballast water is implemented and enforced.

In collaboration with provinces, territories and First Nations, we will work toward a model of
sustainable forest management in Canada’s boreal forests.

This will include establishing appropriate protected areas, and developing and promoting a forest
stewardship program that will sustain our boreal forests and our forest industries, with input from

We will establish the Environment Commissioner as independent Officer of Parliament to provide
effective oversight of the government’s environmental performance.

Canada has a responsibility to future generations to protect our waters, lands, fish and wildlife.
Jack Layton and his team of New Democrats will:

  • Reduce the oil spill response times in the Arctic by completing a response gap analysis
    and investing in federal and private sector capacity speed up response times.
  • Deal with toxic industrial effluent by strengthening the enforcement of existing
  • Provide national and international leadership to prevent build-up and counteract the
    harmful effects of marine debris.
  • Provide the resources to ensure existing legislation regarding oily bilge water discharge
    and management will be effectively enforced.
  • Enact the New Democrats’ Blue-Green Algae Proliferation Prevention Act, which
    addresses the biggest sources of the blue-green algae problem that plagues Canada’s
    lakes and rivers. We will:
    • Ban the supply and sale of phosphorus in dishwashing detergent as initiated by
      Manitoba’s NDP Government.
    • Provide compensation to agricultural landowners for expanding “buffer zones”
      along waterways in which they are prohibited from using harmful nutrients.
    • Promote guidelines and best practices for home and cottage owners and for

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. Canada’s New Democrats support requiring prompt and meaningful action to limit human
exposure to a substance when scientific evidence shows it to be toxic.

Our team has led the way in parliament in targeting toxic contaminants. We succeeded in having
toxin bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate identified as a hazardous product, and in passing New Democrat
legislation to control toxic phthalates used in toys. We have also demanded a total ban on
cancer-causing asbestos in toys, and have tabled a motion banning cosmetic-use pesticides.

Moving forward, New Democrats will work to take more poisons out of people’s homes, consumer
products and communities by recognizing the “toxic use substitution principle.” We will require the
Environment Minister to assess and identify toxic substances that can and should be substituted
with safer products.

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? 

New Democrats have fought consistently against air pollution and for the protection of clean air.
The fact that more than 20,000 Canadians are at risk of premature death because of air pollution
is a tragic commentary on the inaction we have seen from the Conservatives and the previous
government. Choosing a plan that stands up to polluters will help our economy and our health.

New Democrats forced the Conservatives to strike an all-party committee to re-write their weak
“clean air” legislation—and the resulting Clean Air and Climate Change Act, based on the New
Democrat polluter-pay plan that was hailed by environmentalists as a breakthrough.

Our Greener Communities strategy aims to provide incentives to communities to reduce
emissions from land fills. The main green house gas released from land fills is methane,
dramatically more harmful than CO2.

Moving forward, New Democrats will bring in mandatory vehicle emission standards for all
vehicles sold in Canada based on leading North American standards, reduce pollution through an
Early Adopters Program that encourages the purchase of commercial electric hybrid vehicles, set
leading air quality standards for each air pollutant defined in the Canadian Environmental
Protection Act, and establish new energy efficiency regulations.

Question 13

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? 

For our children and grandchildren, we must change the way things are done in Ottawa. We must
act now so we don’t leave them a vastly degraded Canada, and a very inhospitable world. We
need to make sure that our energy and environment policies put the needs of Canadians first.

When it comes to our environment, Jack Layton and Canada’s New Democrats will stand up for
all Canadians —to protect our natural heritage, tackle global warming, and secure a healthy
future for coming generations.

Every citizen does indeed have the right to a healthy environment, including participation in
environmental decision making and the right to hold their government accountable and New
Democrats will work toward the development of such protections in Parliament.

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? 

New Democrats’ Better Environmental Plan implements a new energy economy strategy and
builds on Jack Layton's Climate Change Accountability Act (C-377), which sets the target of an
80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and provides the enforcement tools to do
the job. Our plan legislates absolute pollution cuts every year—unlike Harper’s plan to regulate
only pollution “intensity” and Dion’s idea to place a tax but no limits on emissions.

Only our plan targets the 700 companies responsible for half of all emissions—forcing them to
pay their fair share and contribute to developing green solutions. We will stop the tax giveaways
that reward corporate polluters. New Democrats will big polluters pay by putting a price on carbon
through a ‘cap-and-trade’ carbon pricing system, with hard limits on pollution and a tough charge
on polluters who exceed these limits. Revenue generated from this system will depend on the
market price of carbon each year. It will start out at $35 per tonne and likely grow to $50 per
tonne by year four.

Over four years, a ‘cap-and-trade’ carbon pricing system would generate more than $16.9 billion.
All revenue will be applied to environmental solutions.

This system imposes a market-based price on carbon emissions from Canada’s large industrial
emitters, large industrial emitters with average annual emissions per facility of at least 8 kt of CO2

Together, these big final emitters account for over 50% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions

Our plan will set an absolute cap on these emitters that is consistent with their share of Canada’s
international and domestic GHG reduction targets. Emitters would therefore have an allocation of
emissions permits.

Only our plan invests all proceeds to make green solutions affordable for ordinary people—
including greener cars, better public transit, and home energy retrofits. We will help families make
the transition to a sustainable economy with a $750 million green-collar jobs fund and ensure
greener homes and cities with an average of almost $1 billion a year for public transport and an
energy efficiency retrofit program. Our plan introduces Canada Environment Action Bonds to help
raise capital for the plan’s goals.

Only our plan will help Canadians succeed in the New Energy economy by introducing financial
incentives for clean power, including from solar, wind, water, biomass and other renewable
sources for electricity production and from industrial co-generation and small-scale, sustainable
community facilities, and begin a discussion with the provinces and territories for an East-West
Renewable Energy Grid. We would halt all new Alberta tar sands development until
environmental impacts can be mitigated.

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?
Canada’s New Democrats do not support nuclear energy. We know it to be dangerous,
prohibitively expensive and far from a solution to climate change.

The NDP would stop tilting the marketplace towards unsustainable energy and, over four years,
stop government subsidies and tax breaks for unsustainable energy.

Sierra Club of Canada National Office