Canada Votes 2015

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Continuing this week, The Expositor is posing another weekly question to each candidate in the Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing riding and publishing their responses in our newspaper. We have asked that the candidates restrict their answer to a 500-word limit. Otherwise, they are free to answer in any way they choose. Just about six weeks after the October 19 federal General Election, whoever forms the government will have the opportunity to send delegates to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris, France where climate change policy and practice will be discussed. If your party forms the government following the upcoming election, what substantive commitments, rather than just speeches, will it bring to this international gathering? Please also outline your party’s plans to address climate change, looking forward 10 years, 25 years and 50 years.

wilsonHeather Wilson – Liberal

I understand the economy is on everyone’s mind. However, we can no longer ignore the real costs of climate change while seeking economic prosperity. The planet’s health and all of the creatures living on it is intimately linked to the environment. The economy is directly linked to climate change because the cost of disasters will cripple global economies.

The people I talk to on the doorstep want real leadership on the environment and economy. That means taking advantage of the numerous economic opportunities in the green tech sector that are right here in Algoma-Manitouin-Kapuskasing. Liberals will make smart investments now in initiatives like these so we can give our kids and grandkids a more beautiful, sustainable and prosperous country.

Canadians know that sustainable prosperity is the way forward and new challenges have emerged that we must adapt to. There are real threats to our water and land and climate change is creating environmental volatility locally, nationally and internationally. Liberals have a plan to invest in green infrastructure, create clean jobs, and protect our environment right across the country.

A Trudeau-led government will invest in the green infrastructure projects that so many Canadian communities desperately need–projects like local water and wastewater facilities, climate resilient infrastructure, energy efficient buildings, and systems to protect against changing weather.

In 2010, at the International Convention on Biodiversity, a number of countries including Canada committed to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets to protect freshwater, marine and coastal habitats. At that time Canada committed to protect at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas. At this point, Australia has protected 33.2 percent, the US 16.6 percent and Russia 11.6 percent. Canada has protected 1.3 percent. Contrary to popular belief, water is Canada’s most valuable resource and should we fail to protect generations to come will pay the heaviest price.

A Liberal government would meet international commitments and invest in ocean science that would protect the health of fish stocks and monitor pollutants. We would strengthen laws, restore oversight and ensure thorough environmental assessments of projects that could impact fragile areas. We would review amendments to the Fisheries Act to incorporate modern safeguards to protect our oceans and freshwater habitat.

Canada has the potential to be a world leader in environmental protection, innovation and security. The Liberals understand that and has the plan to make it happen.

carol-hughesCarol Hughes – NDP

There’s a reason you ask what will be done beyond making speeches because that’s all we have seen from any government on climate change. Canadians are still waiting for leadership and it is clear we will have to look past political parties whose only interest is to appear to do something. Decades of inaction have changed global opinion about Canada’s environmental commitments, which is a true shame.

New Democrats are ready to act on climate change and to restore our environmental safeguards. Canadians know they can’t trust the Conservatives to act. Stephen Harper withdrew Canada from Kyoto. While other industrialized countries are on track to meet their emissions reduction targets, Canada has fallen to dead last.

The Conservatives have handed billions in subsidies to their friends in the fossil fuel industry. The Liberals did nothing but dig a deeper hole for us to climb out of after they signed the Kyoto Accord.  It’s time for leadership and New Democrats have a plan to get results for Canadians.

We will meet our climate obligations by building a clean economy starting by eliminating the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.  New Democrats will invest in transit to help cities reduce emissions; implement a revenue-neutral cap and trade system; and, show up at the Paris climate meeting with targets and a plan.

We shouldn’t have to choose between a strong economy and a clean environment. But in the last 10 years, the Conservatives have dismantled the laws protecting our air, land and water. New Democrats recognize that environmental debt is every bit as dangerous and real as fiscal debt, but for too long governments have allowed environmental debt to build without considering who inherits it.

The New Democrat plan will build sustainable prosperity. That includes making polluters pay, starting with cap-and-trade for carbon, rebuilding Canada’s gutted environmental assessment rules, and restoring our international reputation on climate change.

To say how far that takes Canada over 50 years is a guessing game, but imagine where will be if we continue to do nothing.

During this campaign Tom Mulcair said a New Democrats government will go to Paris in December and get us on track to work with the world and for the planet.

Andre Robichaud
Andre Robichaud

André Robichaud – Conservative

When re-elected, the Conservative Government will remain committed to the environment.

Beginning in 2006, many initiatives have been taken to meet and exceed our responsibility as a clean energy superpower, while ensuring economic stability and growth, thereby retaining and creating jobs for Canadians.

Our government is implementing a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This approach protects the environment and supports economic prosperity.

Under the Copenhagen Accord to reduce global GHG emissions, signed by Canada and 120 other countries in 2009, Canada’s target is a 17 percent GHG emissions reduction by 2020, from 2005 levels, and 30 percent by 2030.

The Conservative government has taken many other actions since 2006, such as regulations to introduce tighter emission standards; $1.5 million for the Canada ecoTrust for Clean Air and Climate Change; $250 million for carbon capture and storage research; $10 million for scientific research and analysis on biofuels emissions; rebates for fuel-efficient vehicles and levies on fuel-inefficient vehicles; $36 million to get older vehicles off the road; $250 million carbon capture and storage research in the coal-fired electricity sector.

In 2008, the Conservative government announced that $100 million for international climate change adaptation through the World Bank to assist vulnerable countries. We are contributing an additional $300 million.

The 2009 budget provided $1 billion over five years for clean energy technologies.

In 2010, the Conservative government issued regulations for an average renewable fuel content of five percent in gasoline. This will result in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by four megatons per year, equivalent to taking one million vehicles off the road.

Bill C-22, the Energy Safety and Security Act, enacted in February 2015, enhances safety and security in Canada’s offshore petroleum and nuclear energy industries.

This builds on partnerships such as the 2012 Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for scientifically rigorous and transparent environmental oil-sands monitoring.

The Conservative government has invested in clean energy projects that also strengthen the economy and create jobs. The government’s $6.3 billion loan guarantee supports the Lower Churchill River Project, which will reduce GHG emissions, result in 1,500 jobs during each year of construction, and generate $1.9 billion in earnings for Newfoundland and Labrador.

This balanced approach taken by the Conservative Government for protecting the environment and the economy has proven effective. In 2013, Canada’s GHG emissions were 3.1 percent lower than 2005 levels, and the economy grew by 12.9 percent.

A re-elected Harper government will continue its strategy of strong environmental commitment together with strengthening the economy and creating jobs for Canadians.