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Sierra Club of Canada Questions 2004

1. FUEL ECONOMY

BACKGROUND: Approximately 30% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. 94% of Canadians want the federal government to improve
fuel efficiency of cars through regulation.

QUESTION: If your party forms the government, will you regulate to deliver fuel
economy improvements of 25% by 2010, the goal of the current federal
Kyoto Strategy?

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: In addition, we will:

  • Allow municipalities to license urban vehicles that represent
new efficiencies in vehicular design and allow greater numbers of the
population to access them for use only on local roads.

  • Cancel federal subsidies for highways and traffic systems (and
increase support for transit)

  • Devote research funding to finding better truck-rail-sea
intermodal transport.

  • Create a national clean trucking initiative, redirecting the
trucking industry's expenditures on fuel taxes to improving the
efficiency and safety of the national trucking fleet.

  • Implement a national GST "feebate" program to promote fuel
efficient cars and trucks - increase the GST on personal vehicles that
are in the bottom half with respect to fuel efficiency, decrease the GST for personal vehicles in the top half.


2) ASBESTOS LEGISLATION

BACKGROUND: Canada is one of the world's major exporters of chrysotile asbestos, a well documented carcinogen. According to health experts, there are
100,000 excess deaths around the world every year due to asbestos exposure.

QUESTION: If your party forms the government, will you commit to ending federal funding support for this deadly industry ($700,000 announced in early
December 2003) and support instead the just transition of workers?

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: The GPC is committed to ending funding for practices and
activities that are detrimental to society and the environment. We
advocate tax-shifting - taxing emissions that create environmental or
health risks and rewarding businesses that adapt to the best
environmental practices.


3) SPECIES AT RISK

BACKGROUND: Last year Canada passed legislation to protect endangered species for the first time ever. The Species at Risk Act was promised to protect species wherever they were found. Yet some of the most desperately endangered species have been excluded from protection. The Minister of Fisheries postponed a request for emergency listing of the Sakinaw and Cultis Lake salmon of BC. The request, made by the legislated Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), initially waited 18 months for his decision, only to be delayed by a further 9 months to allow for greater consultation. The species may well be extinct by next season. Meanwhile, the spotted owl in BC, Canada's most endangered bird species, was refused an emergency listing or the use of the so-called safety net provisions by the Minister of Environment.

QUESTION: If your party forms the government, will you be prepared to allow the scientific advice of COSEWIC to take precedence over short-term political concerns and use the discretionary emergency and safety net provisions of the Act to truly protect endangered species?

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: The Green Party will Create Bioregional Stewardships (linked to the
regional offices of Environment Canada) Bioregions are like city-states for non-humans. Within their boundaries, plant and animal species are all dependent on one other. Unless we act to preserve the fundamental integrity of the ecosystem, preserving individual species will be difficult, if not impossible.

The Green Party will:

· Create offices for bioregional stewards, under the mandate of
Environment Canada.

· Seek intervener status in legal actions that impact the health
of the ecosystem.

· Advocate for the maintenance of natural corridors.

· Work with local environmental groups to reduce pollution levels in the air, water and soil.

· Promote sustainability through education.

· Monitor the diversity of species, the levels of pollution and
the health of the ecosystem.

· Advise municipal governments on ecological issues.


4) NUCLEAR SUBSIDIES

BACKGROUND: Over the last fifty years, the federal government has given over $17 billion ($2001) in subsidies to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a crown corporation. In his 1996 budget, then-finance minister Paul Martin promised to reduce AECL funding to $100 million per year by 1998-99. However, the annual subsidy rose to $215 million in 2001-2002. As the world increasingly shifts to sustainable electricity programs based on efficiency and renewable energy technologies, nuclear power has entered into a period of long-term decline. AECL has no prospects for reactor sales in the foreseeable future, and its hopes of a revival based on a new and untested reactor design are highly speculative.

QUESTION: If your party forms the government, will you commit to ending subsidies to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL)?

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: WE are committed to ending any non-safety related subsidies
to the nuclear energy industry in our first mandate and to phasing out
nuclear power within 50 years.

5) NAFTA and GASOLINE ADDITIVES

BACKGROUND: In the last five years, Canada has been at the losing end of a number of challenges under the North American Free Trade Agreement's (NAFTA's) investment provisions (Chapter 11). Due to Chapter 11 challenges,
Canada has had to repeal domes tic legislation to prohibit a neuro-toxic gasoline additive (in this instance due to a decision to "settle" the matter mid-dispute), and has had to make large cash payments (in the tens of millions) to U.S. based companies.

QUESTION: If your party forms government, will you commit to a re-negotiation of Chapter 11 and to ensuring no similar provisions in any new trade agreements?

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: The Green Party will renegotiate and if necessary abrograte
NAFTA, to achieve the best protection for our exporters, maintain our
political sovereignty, and enable us to chart our own course with
progressive environmental and labour standards. We would seek to:

The Green Party would seek to:

- democratize the WTO, IMF, and like institutions

- incorporate environmental and social standards into international
trade agreements, including punitive tarriffs for countries with human rights
violations, etc.

- work with other countries to achieve the above, and if these attempted reforms fail, then we would look at abrogating Chapter 11 of NAFTA

Furthermore, we believe water, health and education should not be included in trade agreements.

6) KYOTO

BACKGROUND: Canada's Kyoto commitment is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6%
below 1990 levels between 2008-2012. The Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, the world's most distinguished and authoritative
scientific body on the issue of human disruption of the planet's
climate, has established that, in order to avoid an atmospheric doubling
of concentrations of carbon dioxide, global reductions of carbon dioxide
on the order of 60% below 1990 levels are required.

QUESTION: If your party forms government, will you commit to a long term strategy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
by at least 50% by 2030?

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: The Green Party will:

  • Replace the VCR as Canada's Kyoto registry with a serious
program to reduce industrial emissions.

  • Restart a government-run Greenhouse Gas Emissions Registry to
cap, trade and reduce emissions.

  • Require all companies earning more than $1 million in annual
revenue to submit reports to the organization

  • Require that new housing meet or exceed the R-2000 standard

  • Recommend the empowerment of municipalities as a key to

achieving solutions for public transit

  • Implement conservation strategies as a cheaper alternative to
new power plants

  • Apply full-cost accounting to energy use and help the freight
industry double its fuel efficiency.


7) BIOTECH

BACKGROUND: In the last five years, the federal government has provided $3.7 billion in subsidies to the biotechnology industry.

QUESTION: If your party forms government, will you commit to a public commission to allow the Canadian public and Canadian Parliament a full debate on
whether these subsidies are in the Canadian national interest?

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: The GPC will shift government-supported research away from
biotechnology and towards organic food production.

8) PESTICIDES

BACKGROUND: The Ontario College of Family Physicians recently released a report identifying household and landscape use of pesticides as a significant
health risk, particularly for children.

QUESTION: If your party forms government, will you commit to using the Pest Control Products Act to ban or restrict the use of pesticides with the
potential to cause cancer, birth defects, immunological suppression or
neurological damage, from use for cosmetic (lawn care) and/or household
use?

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: Thre Green Party will impliment a 14% surtax on all pesticide
uses. Our health strategy is focussed on disease prevention. We will
apply the Precautionary Principle when assessing chemicals currently on
the market as well as those proposed for registration. The Green Party
supports non-chemical landscape and household pest/weed/disease control.
Cosmetic and household pesticide sales constitute less than 9 percent of
pesticide sales, while agriculture accounts for 91 percent. The Green
Party is committed to moving Canada to organic agriculture, so that both urban and rural Canadians are protected from toxic exposure.


9) THE OCEANS ACT

BACKGROUND: The Oceans Act was passed in 1996. It still lacks funds for
implementation. Despite its promise to provide comprehensive ecosystem
approaches to coastal and ocean management decisions, regional petroleum
boards (such as in Nova Scotia) ignore the advice of the scientists in
the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and allow exploration activities
in some of the country's most sensitive and productive marine areas.
Regional petroleum boards have power to supercede any other Acts.

QUESTION: If your party forms government, will you commit to implementation of the Oceans Act and the amendment of petroleum board legislation to allow
ecosystem based decisions and the precautionary approach to be respected?

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: The Green party will impliment regulations to protect the
ocean floor, and create new marine reserves. We will phase out fossil
fuel within 50 years. Tax-shifting, the withdrawal of subsidies to the oil industry, and a carbon tax on coal, gasoline and diesel will make exploration increasingly unprofitable. The Green Party supports the Precautionary Principle and will create independent conservation agencies for watersheds and bioregions with a mandate to act as legal representatives of their ecosystems.


10) ECOLOGICAL FISCAL REFORM

BACKGROUND: In the last federal budget, a few positive steps were taken toward
environmental indicators to assist in the budgetary process. However, overall, our tax system and entrenched subsidies result in perverse signals, encouraging pollution and waste.

QUESTION: If your party forms government, will you commit to Ecological Fiscal
Reform measures such as tax shifting, and, without raising taxes, realign the fiscal system to tax those things we do not want (pollution) and reward those things we do (innovation and jobs)?

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: Tax shifting is an essential component of the GPC's election
platform. We will impliment a 6 Billion dollar tax shift away from
incomes and toward fossil fuels, and pesticides. We will replace the
corporate capital tax with a "corporate environmental and social
responsibility tax" which acts as a "feebate" on corporate behavior. We
will create a national feebate program for personal automobiles.

Transformation takes time, but the Green Party has a clear and practical
vision of what a sustainable economy looks like. Over many years, and
without increasing unemployment, government debts or inflation, the
Green Party will implement a long-term economic strategy which includes
these Ecological Fiscal Reform measures:

  • Lower taxes on income, profit and investment, to promote
increased productivity and job creation.

  • Raise taxes on harmful activities such as pollution, waste and
inefficiency.

  • Shift taxes onto land use and away from incomes.

  • Maintain a balanced budget and reduce the national debt.

  • Ensure that corporations are socially responsible for their
commitments.

  • Introduce economic indicators that track genuine progress.

  • Empower consumers to increase the quality of goods and services
provided.

  • Use tariffs when necessary to discourage unsustainable
industries and human rights violations.

11) HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE

BACKGROUND: There are now about 40,000 tonnes of high level radioactive waste (used nuclear reactor fuel) at sites in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New
Brunswick. This waste remains deadly for hundreds of thousands of years.
The Chrétien government ignored the advice of an environmental
assessment panel and gave complete control of the Nuclear Waste
Management Organization (NWMO) to the nuclear industry. At least until a
phaseout of nuclear power is achieved, environmental groups favour near-surface monitored and retrievable storage, whereas the nuclear industry support deep geological disposal. The NWMO must make a recommendation to the federal government by November 2005 on the long-term management of this waste.

QUESTION: Given the controversial nature of radioactive waste
management, will your party support (a) a joint federal/provincial
environmental assessment panel on the full range of radioactive waste
options following the NWMO recommendation in November 2005;

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: (b) a full parliamentary debate and free vote on the recommendations of the NWMO and the environmental assessment panel.

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: Federal/provincial environmental assessments have a long
history of supporting industry and ignoring scientific evidence. It is
imperative that we have a full parliamentary debate and free vote on the
recommendations of the NWMO and the environmental assessment panel.
However, even this measure carries risk of bias in favour of industry. A
citizen-organized panel of experts from all sectors of society - environment, health, social justice, global security - could be convened
to run parallel to the government panel, and paid for by tax-payers.

12) Food Safety

Background: Canadian food safety standards are not as stringent as those imposed in Europe. Now that there are proven cases of BSE, vCJD, scrapie, and
chronic wasting disease in Canada stronger standards are needed to limit the spread of prion diseases in animals and humans.

QUESTION: Will you, if elected, support legislation to require that Health Canada
adopt food safety standards that would prohibit abattoir and rendering
plant wastes from use in all feed for hogs, poultry, fish , and pet
food?

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: The Green Party supports organic agriculture as the dominant
form of agriculture. These practices are not permissible under organic
certification standards.

13) National Parks

Background: The current government is committed to establishing 10 new national parks and 5 new marine conservation areas by 2008.

Question: If elected will you complete the national parks system and protect the
ecological integrity of existing national parks.

GREENS: YES

COMMENT: While completing the National Parks system is a worthy goal
theoretically, in reality, once land enters the national parks system it
is destined for severe degradation. The recommendations made by the
Panel On Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks, appointed by
the Chretien government, have been completely ignored. For example, the
first piece of wildland added to the national parks system after the
Panel made its recommendations was the Greenwich Adjunct in PEI. This
last piece of wildland in PEI was barely visited by anyone until it
became a national park. Now it is quickly becoming enclosed by tourist
operations and a road has been punched right through to the internationally recognized sand dunes so that tour buses can access them. The Green Party will ensure the protection of the ecological integrity of Canada's national parks by legislating all of the Panel's recommendations.



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