The climate crisis is a top federal election issue for people in Canada this year – and it has been for years. As we approach the election, here are some questions you can ask candidates, along with background information you can use to understand and evaluate their responses.
1) Will you stand up to the oil and gas lobby, and champion legislation to end fossil fuel subsidies and all new fossil fuel development permits?
We know we have to stop fossil fuel extraction. Even the most conservative economic agencies, like the International Energy Agency, say that to avoid climate catastrophe our societies need to stop using fossil fuels. The vast majority of people in Canada are also ready for a shift from fossil fuels, towards renewables and energy efficiency – and they want to see the government support people and communities through that transition.
But despite these clear directives, the Canadian government continues to subsidize and approve fossil fuel infrastructure, allowing the oil and gas lobby to dominate decision-making. In 2021 alone, the federal government gave more than $23 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. We need climate champions who don’t let corporate lobbyists dictate our futures!
2) Will you support Just Transition legislation that winds down the fossil fuel industry, supports affected workers, and leaves no one behind?
Workers, communities, and economists are calling for a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry, with support for workers through that transition. The fossil fuel worker group Iron and Earth recently found that 90 per cent of oilpatch workers believe they could make a career change within a year but many are worried about whether the government will support them in that move.
This exodus is not new: studies show that fossil fuel jobs have been in decline for almost a decade and that transitioning remaining workers to new forms of stable employment will likely be easier than corporations would have us believe.
Meanwhile, as the oil and gas industry is made up of many non-status migrant workers, any government plan for the phasing out of fossil fuels must also include granting these workers permanent residence status.
Politicians must be committed to a truly just transition.
3) How will you ensure that Indigenous peoples, lands, and knowledges are meaningfully included in climate action plans and planning processes?
Although federal climate policy plans repeatedly mention Indigenous Peoples, rights, knowledge, and climate leadership, the government has systematically excluded Indigenous peoples from decision-making. What’s more, by failing to launch the scale of climate action that is needed, Canada’s current climate policies can exacerbate existing economic and social inequalities and further violate the rights of Indigenous peoples.
Indigenous land defense movements across the country consistently demand that the federal government understand the climate crisis as a product of colonization – and to value Indigenous peoples and knowledges as critical tools for fighting the climate crisis.
Politicians must recognize that enabling Indigenous sovereignty is climate action and demand and protect space for Indigenous peoples in climate policy-making.
4) Do you support a Green New Deal that transforms high emissions sectors like energy, transportation, food, and housing into zero-carbon public services?
To start the work of tackling the climate crisis and social injustice, we need to address the primary sources of emissions including energy, transportation, food, and housing. In all these sectors, undue corporate influence is preventing us from making the changes we need to address the climate crisis.
We need to resist transportation privatization, as well as highway and airport expansion, in favour of interconnected public transit systems – including public intercity rail and bus service. We need to reject corporate-dominated food systems in favour of ones rooted in social, environmental, and ecological justice. And we need federal leadership on affordable, efficient, public housing, instead of giving developers and corporate landlords free reign to trample over people, communities, and the environment.