Caring about the environment is the new black. Just like the clothing and accessories of the modern day hipster, the ideals of peace, love and protecting Mother Earth are back like a bad cold. The old ideas of the hippy movement have combined with technology to create a love child named the green movement. Solar panels, wind power, hybrid cars-- they're all part of the new trend. In this coming federal election, every single party (except the Conservatives) that participated in the debates has a new and improved green plan. But are these plans legitimate? It seems like they're just a ploy to grab the popular vote.
The Liberal Party has a huge Green Shift plan. According to their website, thegreenshift.ca, this "bold plan" promises to cut income taxes, put a price on pollution, fight poverty and position Canada to be a leader in the 21st century global economy.
"Our plan is as powerful as it is simple," the website says. "We will cut taxes on those things we all want more of, such as income, investment and innovation, and we will shift those taxes to what we all want less of: pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and waste."
Yet, according to an article on davidsuzuki.org, when he was acting Environment Minister, Dion presented his "Project Green" and was criticized by environmentalists for acting too timid and lacking meaningful regulations. Then too timid, now too bold? Not surprisingly, government reports failed to show significant progress towards reducing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions during Dion's brief time in office. Also, according to the Conservative Party website, although the Liberal Party held power for 13 years, greenhouse gas emissions actually went up 27 per cent.
The Conservative party are also unlikely to follow through with its green plans.
"[We are] turning the corner with a practical, achievable plan to clean up Canada's air, land and water and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," their website, conservative.ca says. However, the Conservative Party showed their disinterest in the support of the environment when they killed the Clean Air and Climate Change Act (Bill C-30), which, as reported by voteforclimate.ca, left Canada without emission reduction policies after the party had held office for a year.
NDP leader Jack Layton included this promise in his platform: "[We will] make big polluters pay. We will put a price on carbon through a 'cap-and-trade' carbon pricing system which establishes hard limits on pollution and a tough charge on polluters who exceed the limits."
Unfortunately, the promises of a "cap-and-trade" system (the government sets the total amount of pollutant that companies can emit, companies can buy and sell emission allowances as long as they stay under the cap), would go along with the Western Climate Initi ative, a system that won't come into effect until 2012. This means that an NDP government would sit around for four years, waiting for the system to commence.
The only legitimate political party to have always cared about the environment is the Green Party. Regrettably, the environment has been their only concern for the last few elections. This election, they've opened up with a platform including economic and social concerns, but barely. In the quick overview of their platform on votefortomorrow.ca: "The most urgent threat is the climate crisis . . . We must also invest in peace. And we must shockproof our society against unforeseeable events by building in resilience."
The green movement doesn't seem so legitimate anymore. It is a plausible, sustainable ideal which calls for more care of what humans are taking from the planet. However, using it to gain the popular vote is a sad ploy. Hopefully the next trend doesn't consist of fossil fuels made out of koala bears.