Photo by Jason Hafso on Unsplash
Cameron Fenton, leader of climate activist group 350 Canada, argues that an alliance between both parties can lead to greater electoral success and more ambitious Climate policies in Canada
Moving away from the status-quo
In his opinion piece, Fenton mentions that this Green-NDP alliance could start making concrete changes in Canada regarding climate action.
He contrasts the potential of this political undertaking to the Liberal government’s failure to address climate change effectively: “Despite Trudeau’s lofty rhetoric and some laudable policy actions, Canada’s emissions haven’t dropped during his time in office. And even if they do start falling, our country’s climate targets are still woefully low. The government’s 2030 target of a 30 percent emissions reduction below 2005 levels is, in reality, only half of the minimum 60 percent cuts we need by then”.
In his view, most Canadians across the country do not realize the urgency of the matter. Citing a poll published on the website Climate Access, Fenton mentions that around 71% of Canadians are satisfied with Justin Trudeau’s climate policies. Due to lack of media awareness and political ambition, Canadians seem to be content with the way the climate crisis is being handled. For Fenton, this needs to change dramatically if Canada wants to actually prevent further consequences from Climate Change inaction.
Fenton’s sentiment is amplified by the lack of a precise long-term Climate plan from the Liberal government: “The 2050 pledge to meet net zero mostly hinges on unproven technologies, wishful thinking and corporate greenwashing that will see more money spent on experiments and public relations than on actually retooling our economy to 100 per cent renewable energy.”
Overall, the political alignment between both parties on the issue of climate change could kickstart real change in Canada and hence move away from the wishful thinking approach that is used today.
Setting aside the differences
Fenton’s proposal hinges on the fact that both parties would put their political differences to the side and concentrate on Climate Change as their main issue. According to Amara Possian, also a leader of 350 Canada, this might not be too farfetched as the NDP and the Green Party of Canada agree on more issues that they disagree on: “Both parties oppose some of the biggest new fossil fuel projects. They both think we need stronger climate targets, and that we’re behind on creating green jobs. Their combined platforms from 2019 provide a compelling plan to reduce inequality while tackling the climate emergency.”
The similarity of both parties’ platforms could foster collaboration between them. In turn, this collaboration would result in a greater electoral success, says Possian. Taking a look at the 2019 Elections, Liberal candidates won by less votes than the combined sum that the Greens and the NDP received in six ridings. Possian also mentions that in another 14 ridings, the combined votes of the NDP and Green Party came convincingly close to the Liberal share. A strategic and well presented alliance could help both parties flip these seats during the next Canadian federal election and lead to effective climate policies.
Possian also acknowledges the influence of strategic voting that occurs during each election. In her view, this alliance could counteract that push: “In 2019, 45 percent of Liberal voters considered voting NDP and 29 percent considered voting Green.” Possian believes that a well orchestrated partnership focused on a concrete, ambitious, and feasible climate project could sway undecided Canadians: “Most Canadians don’t identify strongly with any party, and climate voters would be better able to vote their conscience if presented with a plan to win.”
Possian and Fenton’s proposal is ambitious, but regarding the urgency of the climate response, ambition is what Canada needs.