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Canada Votes 2021: Local candidates weigh in on climate change

Many consider climate change the defining issue of our time — candidates share their party’s plan to tackle the problem 
2021-08-26 Elections Canada RB 1

With election day on Sept. 20, the time to make a decision is upon us. To help you parse where the party’s stand on the issues of the day, we sent a questionnaire to the candidates of the four parties with a member in parliament, as well as the People’s Party of Canada candidates.

Issues we polled the candidates on were climate change, affordable housing, Laurentian University and the post-secondary sector, the opioid crisis, Indigenous issues, vaccine passports, corporate taxation, universal basic income and mental health supports.

Questionnaires were sent to all candidates, though not all candidates chose to participate.

Nickel Belt Riding

Questionnaires were sent to all candidates. Candidates Charles Humphrey (Conservative) and David Hobbs (People’s Party of Canada) did not provide answers.

What in your party's platform is specific to combating climate change?

Andréane Chénier, NDP

We are already facing the realities of climate change. We need to act now actually deal with our rising carbon emissions while at the same time putting measures in place to protect from the damage Climate Change is already causing.  Besides bringing in a real plan to reduce our emissions and create thousands of new green jobs, our Northern Platform proposes to: 

  • Stabilize the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To that end we will set a target of reducing Canada’s emissions by at least 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. 
  • Create and fund a Climate Accountability Office, to provide independent oversight of federal climate progress. 
  • Invest $3 billion to help municipalities respond to disasters and support communities in building climate resilience infrastructure, while working with communities on an emergency management plan, to ensure that we are ready to manage wildfires, floods and other disasters worsened by climate change. 
  • Develop and support a climate resilience strategy for Northern Ontario with Indigenous communities and regional industries to protect our natural ecosystems and resources for the long term.  
  • Support Canadians buying and using Zero Emission Vehicles. 

Craig Gravelle, Green Party

Specifically, the Green Party will end all extraction of fossil fuels by cancelling all pipelines, ending all subsidies to the fossil fuel sector, investing in a major coast-to-coast renewable energy grid, investing in green infrastructure and transportation.

Marc Serré, Liberal Party

The Liberal plan is comprehensive and builds upon the successes already achieved. Some of these key successes include:

  • Invested over $100 billion towards climate action and clean growth.
  • Took action to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 and enshrined Canada’s net-zero goal into law.
  • Advanced a ban on harmful single-use plastics, committed to eliminating plastic waste by 2030
  • Made sure pollution isn’t free anywhere in Canada and put more money in the pockets of hard-working families 
  • Laid out a plan to plant 2 billion trees over the next ten years
  • Committed to help Canadians improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce their energy bills by providing homeowners with up to $5,000 in grants to retrofit their homes 
  • Commitment to ensure 100% of vehicles sold in Canada be zero-emission by 2035.
  • Made historic investments for public transit, with over $40 million right here in Nickel Belt- Greater Sudbury.

Now we are going even further by deeply engaging Indigenous peoples and leadership in nature conservation, further developing on the $8 billion Net Zero Accelerator Initiative to decarbonize heavy industry like steel and aluminum, securing Canada’s clean industrial advantage, and create green jobs. We are also introducing a new Buy Clean Strategy to support and prioritize the use of made-in-Canada low-carbon products in public and private infrastructure projects. These measures combined with policies that we’ve advanced such as Bill C-12 will hold us accountable to do more for our future generations and our planet. 

Under your party's plan, how long will it take to ease away from the fossil fuel industry and how will that be achieved with minimal impact to Canada's economy?

Craig Gravelle, Green Party

The Green Party plan accelerates the phasing out of existing oil and gas operations. It will achieve net-zero emissions as quickly as possible while aiming to have a net negative in emissions by 2050. GLI will become Canada’s new economic foundation and it is crucial to providing a just transition to workers affected by our green economic transition.

Marc Serré, Liberal Party

Under our leadership we will accelerate our G20 commitment to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from 2025 to 2023. We will have also developed a plan to phase-out public financing of the fossil fuel sector, including from Crown corporations, consistent with our commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Realizing there are many jobs that will need to be readjusted we have committed to establishing a $2 billion Futures Fund for Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador that will be designed in collaboration with local workers, unions, educational institutions, environmental groups, investors, and Indigenous Peoples who know their communities best. We will also support local and regional economic diversification and specific place based strategies. 

In addition, we will launch a Clean Jobs Training Centre to help industrial, skill, and trade workers across sectors to upgrade or gain new skills to be on the leading edge of the zero-carbon industry. 

At the more local level, recognizing our cold Nickel Belt winters,  we will accelerate the transition from fossil fuel-based heating systems to electrification through incentives and standards, including investing $250 million to help low-income Canadians get off home-heating oil.

Climate change will lead to more natural disasters. What will your party do to support people and industries impacted by climate changed-caused natural disasters?

Craig Gravelle, Green Party

The Green Party will invest in green infrastructure that mitigates the impacts of natural disasters. The Green Party will also provide Canadians with a GLI that acts as an insurance policy for any unexpected event or expense. 

Marc Serré, Liberal Party

Recognizing the unpredictability caused by climate change we’ve already started to deliver solutions locally. In 2019 our government invested over $8.8 million for repairs to the Junction Creek culvert, the reconstruction and improvement of a segment of Junction Creek, and a new storm water management facility. These projects will help protect over 18,000 residents in Greater Sudbury from flooding. Nationally we’ve already Invested over $3.4 billion towards the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund to ensure Canadians are prepared. 

Our plan for the future:

  • Retrofits and upgrades to protect against extreme weather.
  • Complete our work with provinces and territories to develop flood maps for higher-risk areas in the next three years.
  • Create a nation-wide flood ready portal so that Canadians have the information they need to make decisions on where and how to build their homes and communities
  • Take action to protect homeowners who are at high risk of flooding by creating a low-cost national flood insurance program.
  • Develop strategies, in partnership with the insurance industry and private sector to lower insurance premiums by identifying cost-effective ways to better protect communities and homes from climate impacts and save people money.
  • Expand the eligibility requirements of the CMHC deep home retrofit program and Canada Greener Homes Grant 
  • Finalize Canada’s first-ever National Adaptation Strategy by the end of 2022, which will set clear targets and indicators to measure progress on—and strengthen the business case for—adaptation.
  • Finalize and apply a climate lens to ensure climate adaptation and mitigation considerations are integrated throughout federal government decision-making.

Sudbury Riding

Questionnaires were sent to all candidates.

What in your party's platform is specific to combating climate change?

Viviane Lapointe, Liberal Party

A re-elected Liberal government will:

  • Continue to put a rising price on pollution, while putting more money back into the pockets of Canadians. 
  • Lay out a plan to plant 2 billion trees over the next ten years and support other nature-based climate solutions like the conservation of wetlands, peatlands, croplands, and grasslands that sequester carbon and keep ecosystems intact.
  • Help Canadians improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce their energy bills by providing homeowners with up to $5,000 in grants to retrofit their homes and moving forward on a plan to make interest-free loans of up to $40,000 available. 
  • Offer rebates of up to $5,000 to 100,000 Canadians who have purchased electric vehicles and helped build enough charging stations that you can drive from St. John's to Victoria in an electric vehicle. Committed to ensuring 100% of vehicles sold in Canada be zero-emission by 2035 and supporting automakers and auto-workers to produce in Canada.
  • Launch a National Net-zero Emissions Building Strategy, which will chart a path to net-zero emissions from buildings by 2050 with ambitious milestones along the way. 
  • Accelerate the development of the national net-zero emissions model building code for 2025 adoption.
  • Accelerate major public transit projects, including supporting the switch to zero-emission buses and developing rural transit solutions. 
  • Advance a National Active Transportation Strategy to build bike lanes, wider sidewalks, pathways, and multi-use trails.
  • Establish 10 new national parks and 10 new national marine conservation areas (NMCAs) in the next 5 years—doubling the size of the existing national parks and NMCA system in Canada. 
  • Work with Indigenous communities on comanagement agreements of these national parks and NMCAs. 
  • Continue to work with partners to ensure Canada meets its goals to conserve 25% of our lands and waters by 2025 and 30% of each by 2030.

Colette Methé, People’s Party of Canada

We cannot combat climate change. The climate has been changing for the past 4.6 billion years and will continue to change regardless of human activity. I believe people have the misconception that climate change is synonymous to global warming because of carbon dioxide emissions. We are presently at the tail end of a 150-million-year DECLINE of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. When we use fossil fuels, we return CO2 to the atmosphere thus creating an upward trend. In 2018, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Changer (IPCC) said “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climates is not possible”. The People’s Party of Canada will withdraw from the Paris Accord and stop sending billions of dollars to developing countries.

David Robinson, Green Party

You have asked a big question. Here are a few of our climate planks: stronger targets than any other party, bBorder adjustment taxes to level the international carbon playing field, elimination of oil subsidies, cancellation of pipelines, higher carbon fees and dividends, phasing out of existing oil and gas operations, requiring the Canada Pension Plan to get rid of all fossil fuel investments, a Just Transition Act.

Ian Symington, Conservative Party

Canada’s Conservatives have a serious plan to combat climate change that  allows us to meet our targets and reduce emissions by 2030. We recognize  that the most efficient way to reduce our emissions is to use pricing  mechanisms – but not one where the government pockets your money. We  will convert the carbon pricing into green initiatives for Canadians. We will  pursue technology including EV transportation, carbon capture at source and  in the field, low emission hydrogen options and address power grid potentials prior to overwhelming capacities. We will fight climate change and protect the environment, but we won’t do it  on the backs of hardworking Canadians or by hurting our economy.

Nadia Verrelli, NDP

We are already facing the realities of climate change. We need to act now actually deal with our rising carbon emissions while at the same time putting measures in place to protect from the damage Climate Change is already causing.  Besides bringing in a real plan to reduce our emissions and create thousands of new green jobs, our Northern Platform proposes to: 

  • Stabilize the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To that end we will set a target of reducing Canada’s emissions by at least 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. 
  • Create and fund a Climate Accountability Office, to provide independent oversight of federal climate progress. 
  • Invest $3 billion to help municipalities respond to disasters and support communities in building climate resilience infrastructure, while working with communities on an emergency management plan, to ensure that we are ready to manage wildfires, floods and other disasters worsened by climate change. 
  • Develop and support a climate resilience strategy for Northern Ontario with Indigenous communities and regional industries to protect our natural ecosystems and resources for the long term.  
  • Support Canadians buying and using Zero Emission Vehicles. 

Under your party's plan, how long will it take to ease away from the fossil fuel industry and how will that be achieved with minimal impact to Canada's economy?

Viviane Lapointe, Liberal Party

This Liberal government is the first federal government in Canadian history to set an emissions reduction target and meet it. A re-elected Liberal government will set new ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030, become carbon neutral by 2050 and produce net zero plastic waste by 2030.

A re-elected Liberal government will: 

  • Make sure the oil and gas sector reduces emissions at a pace and scale needed to achieve net-zero by 2050, with 5-year targets to stay on track to achieving this shared goal. And driving down pollution starts with ensuring that pollution from the oil and gas sector doesn’t go up from current levels. 
  • Set 2025 and 2030 milestones based on the advice of the Net-Zero Advisory Body to ensure reduction levels are ambitious and achievable and that the oil and gas sector makes a meaningful contribution to meeting the nation’s 2030 climate goals. 

Fortunately, Canada’s largest oil and gas companies are already committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. These actions will incentivize clean innovation and the adoption of clean technologies, including carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS).

All of this puts us on the path with world leaders in climate change, but we need to get started right away.

Countless independent reviews of the parties’ climate change plans have reached the same conclusion: the Liberal climate change plan is by far the most effective and realistic. Our plan for the environment is among the best in the world, and I will work hard in Ottawa to ensure a bright future for my children and yours.

Colette Methé, People’s Party of Canada

Fossil fuels powers global economy providing 85% of global energy. Global demand for oil is expected to keep rising for several decades. Canada has the third-largest oil reserves in the world and is well placed to answer this demand. If this oil doesn’t come from Alberta and Saskatchewan it will come from countries with poor environmental or human rights standards. The oil and gas industry has been a major source of employment, government revenues, and economic well-being for all of Canada. It should be allowed to grow, export its products, and bring prosperity to our country. Maybe in the future we could look at sustainable alternatives but we aren’t there yet. 

David Robinson, Green Party

It will take at least to 2045 to eliminate 90% off fossil fuels. That will still leave significant emissions to deal with which is why we need to start cutting immediately. There are no plans that can do the job that don't have a big impact. That doesn't have to be painful. Moving to a better home has a big impact on a family, and it can be exhausting, but it is a good transition to make.

Ian Symington, Conservative Party

We will develop a National Clean Energy Strategy that will include the following  components: 

•Strengthening Canada’s Grid: a plan to build a cleaner, more resilient grid that is  adaptable to regional conditions and priorities. This will include strategies for developing  and expanding smart grids, improving inter-ties, increasing the use of mass storage,  and developing and deploying new clean energy technology such as nuclear, hydrogen  and renewables. 

•ESG-I Leadership: a serious approach to Environmental, Social, and Governance  (ESG) is increasingly an expectation of the global capital markets and Canada has  become a world leader in Indigenous (I) engagement and partnerships within the energy  sector. Canadian ESG-I leadership will help us demonstrate the leadership of our oil  and gas sector with respect to emissions intensity reduction, stewardship, and  Indigenous partnerships as we strive to rebalance global trade and practices with  respect to resources. 

• Building a Hydrogen-Powered Future: a plan to explore how Canada can become a  world leader in the production of blue and green hydrogen, how hydrogen technology  can contribute to a low carbon future, and how Canada can build a foundation for taking  advantage of hydrogen’s potential. 

• Liquid Natural Gas Exports: thanks to our clean grid, Canada is able to make the  lowest-emission LNG in the world. LNG can be used as an important transition fuel to  replace coal as a source of reliable base power, and to provide responsive back-up  power for inconsistent renewables in the absence of adequate grid storage. It can also  be used as an important transition fuel for developing countries seeking to move away  from subsistence fuels like wood and dung. Our strategy will focus on exporting LNG  while ensuring that new facilities are electrified to reduce emissions. 

Climate change will lead to more natural disasters. What will your party do to support people and industries impacted by climate changed-caused natural disasters?

Viviane Lapointe, Liberal Party

Our goal is a future in which the energy workers and communities that built this country have even greater opportunities than they do today. 

As we move towards a net-zero future, it is estimated that the growth in clean energy jobs will more than offset the declines in fossil fuel sectors. There will be opportunities for workers to drill for geothermal energy, install solar panels, and build carbon capture and storage projects. And a diverse and growing economy will create opportunities outside the energy sector, too. 

A re-elected Liberal government will: 

  • Establish a $2 billion Futures Fund that will be designed in collaboration with local workers, unions, educational institutions, environmental groups, investors, and Indigenous peoples who know their communities best. 
  • Move forward with Just Transition Legislation, guided by the feedback we receive from workers, unions, Indigenous peoples, communities, and provinces and territories. 
  • Launch a Clean Jobs Training Centre to help industrial, skill and trade workers across sectors to upgrade or gain new skills to be on the leading edge of zero carbon industry.

Strong action is needed to help Canadians prepare for flood, wildfire, drought, coastline erosion, and other extreme weather events worsened by climate change. 

A re-elected Liberal government will:

  • Support retrofits and upgrades to protect against extreme weather. 
  • Complete our work with provinces and territories to develop flood maps for higher-risk areas in the next three years. 
  • Create a nation-wide flood ready portal so that Canadians have the information they need to make decisions on where and how to build their homes and communities, and how they can protect their homes and communities from flood risk. 
  • Take action to protect homeowners who are at high risk of flooding and don’t have adequate insurance protection, by creating a low-cost national flood insurance program.

Colette Methé, People’s Party of Canada

As mentioned in the question “natural disasters” are natural. Forest fires, floods and other natural disasters have been occurring since genesis and will continue to occur. Records of these disasters exist. The People’s Party will invest in adaptation strategies if problems arise because of natural occurrences. We will implement practical solutions to make Canada’s water and soil cleaner, including bringing clean drinking water to remote First Nations communities.

David Robinson, Green Party

In the short-run we will spend what we have to to keep people safe and to support them when they face unforeseeable losses. The real challenge in the longer-run is getting people, businesses and municipalities to start their disaster preparations in advance. It is not clear to us how much Canadians will  be willing or able to contribute to bailing out people who don't exercise due care to protect their properties and businesses in advance. 

Ian Symington, Conservative Party

Climate change increases the risks of fires, droughts, flooding and extreme weather events. Canada is already demonstrably feeling the impact of this given the fact that insurance payouts due to environmental events – particularly flooding – have dramatically increased in the last 12 years. As a result, homes are becoming harder to insure, costs for insurance are going up, and maximum payouts are going down. Canada’s Conservatives will build resiliency and better prepare Canada for the impacts  of a changing climate by: 

• Appointing a national disaster resilience advisor to the Privy Council Office. This office would advise Cabinet and the Prime Minister’s Office, helping ensure that the government is prepared for future risks. 

• Implementing a national action plan on floods, including establishing a residential high risk flood insurance program to ensure all Canadians are financially  protected while avoiding future government bailouts. 

• Devising and implementing a national climate adaptation strategy that is: based  on measurable targets; addresses existing provincial concerns on flood  readiness while leveraging private sector solutions to reduce government  exposure and spending; and addresses wildfire and drought exposure in  collaboration with farmers, ranchers, and foresters.  

• Incorporating a mitigation and adaptation lens to the government’s infrastructure  investments. Communities must be able to identify risks and be able to plan to  address them. An adaptation lens can include designing infrastructure to be  resilient to extreme weather events, but it also might include designing other  infrastructure to protect against known hazards. In either case, this will help  communities be prepared in the event of an emergency.