Vote October 19th!

For those of you that didn’t make it out to the advanced polls to vote, Monday will be your last chance to have your say in the Federal election!  Make sure you get out there to vote.  Here’s my round-up of the urban-centric portions of each party’s campaign platform, plus a few of my comments below.

Conservatives

  • Create a wildlife conservation enhancement program for hunting
  • Against carbon taxes, sees them as “job killing”
  • Invest in developing nations to help them lower carbon emissions
  • Committed to GHG reductions by 2030
  • Created fund over next four years for P3 transit projects
  • $150 million renovation, expansion and improvement of existing community infrastructure
  • $150 million over 4 years to support social housing (TCHC’s debt was $1.3 billion in 2012)
  • New Home Accessibility Tax Credit for seniors and those with disabilities to renovate their homes
  • Create permanent $1.5 billion tax credit/year on eligible renovations for 15% of renovation costs (projects must be between $1000-$5000)
  • Raise allowable tax free RRSP withdrawls from $25,000 to $35,000 for purchasing or construction of homes

Sources: Conservative Party Platform (PDF) | CitiesCan Policy Tracker

Personally, I find the Conservative platform very scant on both environmental and urban issues, and this becomes even more obvious when you compare the list above to those of other parties below.  Many of the Conservative’s promises are also vague (they just list “GHG reductions” without any clear figures).  Harper seems to be more focused on international issues rather than issues at home, both are equally important, so it’s disappointing to see such an unbalanced campaign.

NDP

  • Develop Pan-Canada cap and trade system
  • Set concrete emissions limits for major polluters
  • Restore protection to lakes and rivers via Navigable Waters Protection Act
  • Fulfil G20 commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies over 40 years
  • Introduce safe drinking water act
  • Ban bulk export of water across international boundaries
  • Introduce Environmental Bill of Rights
  • Meet Canada’s 2020 target of 10% oceans protection
  • Recommit to Parks Canada, prioritize maintaining and restoring ecological integrity of Parks
  • Better Transit Plan – up to $1.3 billion annually over 20 years, phased in over a 4 year period (removing P3 requirement that Conservatives created)
  • Increase gas fund transfer to municipalities by $1.5 billion/year (total $3.7 billion per year) over 4 year period
  • Invest $2.25 billion over four year in housing, including: $2.1 billion for federal social housing, $40 million for front-line homelessness supports, reinstate $40 million for shelter enhancement program for women and children, work with CMHC $500 million for non-profits and co-ops to create affordable and market-rental housing units
  • Invest $200 million over four years in provincial, territorial and municipal home energy programs
  • Appoint minister of urban affairs; mandate to identify worthy extensions of existing social housing investments

Sources: NDP Platform (PDF) | CitiesCan Policy Tracker

One of the things that caught my eye about this platform is the commitment to introducing an Environmental Bill of Rights, something which the David Suzuki Foundation has been campaigning for for a few years now as part of their Blue Dot project.  I’d love to see what an Environmental Bill of Rights means for environmental law in Canada, and how it would effect future decision making across the board.

Green Party

  • Defend coastal waters from pipelines and oil tankers (BC, bay of fundy)
  • Stop oil sands expansion
  • More oil refinement in Canada, instead of shipping raw oil
  • Price carbon
  • Phase out coal fire electricity nationally (remaining provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and some Manitoba)
  • End thermal coal exports
  • Carbon fee, funds generated will be paid to every Canadian over 18 as dividend
  • National transportation strategy, new rules on rail safety; invest $600 million in 2016-2017, $764 million by 2020 in Via Rail
  • Will fund CSAs, farmers markets and small scale farmers
  • $6.4 billion/year to municipal infrastructure until 2020
    • Split into 6 superfunds:
      1. community brownfield reclamation
      2. water and waste treatment facilities
      3. sports, cultural and recreational facilities
      4. mass transit promotion
      5. cycling and pedestrian promotion
      6. community housing
  • Create Canadian Infrastructure Bank for municipalities
  • Invest $1 billion/year until 2020 to fund local Community & Environment Service Corps Youth teams that will provide employment for 40,000 youth (18-25), this is a three year program for a total employment of 120,000 youth
  • Establish National Affordable Housing Program; build 20,000 new units a year, renew 8,000 per year, provide rent supplements or shelter assistance for 40,000 low income households
  • Retrofit all low income housing by 2025, all Canadian homes by 2030 to increase energy efficiency
  • Reduce 80% of building emissions by 2030 by reinvesting in EcoEnergy Program

Sources: Green Party Platform (PDF) | CitiesCan Policy Tracker

The key points that I am interested in from the Green Party’s platform were their plans for energy efficiency for homes and buildings.  I like how they made sure to prioritize low income housing units first, it’s particularly important because low income households would be the last to be able to consider making upgrades on a tight budget, and also the most likely to benefit from subsequent utility cost reductions.  Also an 80% reduction on building emissions has the potential to bring emissions down from 12% of Canada’s total GHG emissions to only 2.6%!

The carbon fee and dividend plan is also an interesting take on the emissions issue, I’m not sure how exactly that would pan out but it’s definitely an approach I’d like to learn more about.

Liberals

  • Set emissions reduction targets
  • Low carbon economy trust $2 billion to fund any projects that effectively reduce carbon emissions
    • $100 million/year clean energy produces
    • $200 million/year for innovation and use of clean technology in natural resources sector
  • Fulfil G20 commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies over 40 years
  • Support large and community scale renewable energy infrastructure projects (building retrofits, clean energy storage, charging stations)
  • Set air quality standards
  • Update national energy board to reflect regional views
  • Renew commitment to Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River Basin and Lake Winnipeg Basin
  • Restore $1.5 million/year in fresh water research
  • Increase percent of protected oceans to 5% by 2017, and meet Canada’s target of 10% 2020; $8 million/year for project
  • Restore $40 million in funding for federal oceans science and monitoring program
  • National Parks – invest $25 million/year to develop national parks and reverse $25 million in previous cuts
  • Restore funding for Canada’s urban search and rescue teams which aid in national disasters and extreme weather events (ice storms, flooding, etc.)
  • Invest $19.7 billion over the next 10 years for infrastructure on top of existing funding, including:
    • Green infrastructure: local water, waste water, climate resilient infrastructure and clean energy
    • Creating new transit opportunities and updating existing infrastructure
    • Create and improve affordable housing, seniors facilities, early learning and childhood care, long term care facilities, and cultural and recreational facilities
  • Automatically transfer any uncommitted federal infrastructure funds at year end to municipalities
  • Removing P3 requirement from existing Conservative transit fund
  • Establish Canadian Infrastructure Bank to fund municipalities infrastructure projects
  • $10 million in RRSP flexibility for home buyers
  • $125 million tax incentives to renovate and increase rental housing
  • Increase new residential property rebate to 100% for affordable rental housing
  • Direct CMHC and Canadian Infrastructure Bank to provide financial support for developers of affordable rental housing
  • Issue green bonds to make green infrastructure more attractive to private investors
  • Inventory all available federal buildings and see what can be re-purposed for affordable housing needs

Sources: Liberal Party Platform (PDF) | CitiesCan Policy Tracker

The Liberals are committed to infrastructure improvements, with a $19.7 billion investment in green infrastructure, transit, and social housing and amenities that I think we really need to see happen in Canada in the next few years.  Canada’s cities and suburbs are growing fast, and rendering current infrastructure to be overburdened and in many cases obsolete.  I’m also interested in their plans for green bonds to aid in economic stimulus for green infrastructure improvements.

I also just really like that the Liberal party has gone above and beyond any other party in presenting us with real facts and figures, so I feel like I have a much better picture of what they intend to do.  It seems like they have a real, well thought out plan, rather than just some vague commitments.

So, that’s a wrap.  I’ve seen a lot of electoral platform overviews in the past week but none really covered environmental and urban issues well enough for me, so I hope this was informative! See you at the polls on Monday!


Featured image credit to Dennis Jarvis.

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