Today I submitted the GreensRising.ca petition to Elizabeth May asking her to take a clear position against the Alberta Tar Sands.
Since this petition was launched in June, the Green Party of Canada has published its plan to transition the workforce away from fossil fuels. For the first time in about 7 years, the policy of building more refineries and bitumen upgraders in order to create jobs in the industry was omitted from the policy statement.
The omission of this policy marks a significant and positive change in the way the federal party is addressing labour issues and their interactions with the transition to sustainability.
Although this is a positive shift in the right direction, we are still short of a commitment to shut down the tar sands once and for all in the first governing mandate of the Canadian Greens. I remain hopeful that this policy change can still be announced before the election and I think that it would rally a great deal of support for the federal Green Party in the process.
During the last few weeks, several politicians, including Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet, and NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice, have made posts on social media about this petition/debate in which they have attempted to paint their respective parties as essentially greener than Green! While I do think it is a positive thing to see three parties competing to see who is most strongly opposed to the tar sands, the reality is that both the NDP and the the Bloc Québécois have zero credibility on this issue. The leader of the Bloc was our minister of the environment in Quebec under the Marois Government during which time he used his position to support the arrival of the tar sands oil through the rusty old Enbridge line 9B pipeline. He supported a plan to use taxpayer funds to conduct fracking on Anticosti island, one of the country’s largest and most pristine islands.
As for the NDP, they openly campaigned on tar sands expansion and the energy east pipeline in the 2015 election. In Alberta, their provincial party accelerated the pace of tar sands expansion and launched political attacks on BC for refusing the Trans Mountain pipeline. Jagmeet Singh remained silent and has yet to call for a shut down of the tar sands. He has also flip flopped all over the place on LNG and fracking.
Despite the fact that the Federal Greens should definitely have a stronger position on the tar sands, they remain the best option for environmentalists and I will be out campaigning with local candidates and perhaps even Elizabeth May herself during the election. No other party would have the mandate to impose the drastic measures we need to fight the climate crisis and environmental degradation. No other party is credible on these issues and no other party would come close to taking the actions needed to address the crisis.
I would also like to say that it is great that we can have such debates within a political party. It’s important to note that the Green Party of Canada membership and candidate roster spans from former conservatives to ultra-progressive environmental and social justice activists. Under these circumstances, it’s vitally important to have a healthy internal democracy and for progressives, youth, and somewhat more radicle environmental activists to have their (our) voices heard within the federal organization. I hope that this debate has helped the party grow while putting the tar sands shutdown back on the agenda of federal politics.
Thank you to everyone who signed the petition!
Leader of the Green Party of Québec