A couple of days ago, I wrote a post expressing my profound disagreement with the Green Party of Canada’s position that tar sands oil should be consumed in eastern Canada until the year 2050 and that the federal government should subsidize the construction of bitumen upgraders and refineries to make this happen. Over the past two days, I received an overwhelming amount of support from Green Party members and environmentalists from right across the country. Thanks everyone!
Since my initial post, the Green Party of Canada has taken several steps to reverse their controversial position! Elizabeth May now says that tar sands oil should not be sent to Quebec or eastern Canada! This policy change is a tremendous sign of progress and a victory for everyone who had their voice heard over the last few days! Thank you to everyone who has spoken out! However, this debate is not over because the federal party still supports investing public funds to subsidize the construction of new refineries and bitumen upgraders in Alberta. We will have to keep up the pressure in order for the Green Party of Canada to take a clear position against fossil fuel subsidies.
Right now Ms. May’s position is that investing in refineries would allow Canada to create (or maintain) jobs in the tar sands by refining our product here at home rather than exporting it raw. I fully understand this long-standing position, however, I strongly disagree with it.
The oil industry has made it clear that they have no interest in building these refineries themselves and that it is more profitable for them to export the product raw. The only way to force the construction of refineries is to subsidize them with public funds. This is exactly what Elizabeth May is calling for in point #13 of her 2019 environmental platform named Mission Possible, which states that a Green government would « invest in upgraders to turn Canadian solid bitumen into gas, diesel, propane and other products … providing jobs in Alberta. »
Building new refineries in 2019 will only tie Canada to this failing and unsustainable industry for decades to come. The solution to the climate crisis is certainly not to give more hard earned pubic funds to oil companies. The Green Party of Canada membership voted in 2014 to end all fossil fuel subsidies. In 2016 we voted to endorse the international Fossil Fuel Divestment movement.
Although Elizabeth May has supported refinery construction for many years, in the past she has always refused to answer how the industry would be coerced into building them and has refused to answer questions about subsidies. What’s new in this year’s election platform is an explicit commitment to finance the refineries with public funds.
Although opposing the use of tar sands oil in eastern Canada is a good start, the Green Party of Canada should strike point 13 from their environmental platform as soon as possible. It is incompatible with what the membership has voted and incompatible with the environmental movement. There is still ample time to revise this document before the election and I call on Ms. May to take action now to rectify the situation. Ms. May will be in Québec on Sunday and, if she chooses to do so, she can announce the policy change then. If Elizabeth refuses to reverse her position before the federal election, we will have to campaign for the party to do so at the next policy convention which is scheduled for 2020.
Although I would have preferred to have this situation rectified internally rather than debating with Ms. May through the media, all of my attempts at dealing with this issue internally have fallen on deaf ears. I am speaking out on a position of principle because I know that the party cannot afford to be associated with continued exploitation of the tar sands or the promotion of fossil fuel subsidies. This critique I am making is about specific elements of the program and not the plan as a whole; in fact, I strongly agree with 90% of the program but I simply cannot, in good conscience, defend the policies mentioned above.
Alex Tyrrell B.Sc. Env
Leader of the Green Party of Quebec
– Update on the Canadian Greens’ tar sands position – A couple of days ago, I wrote a post expressing my profound…