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The Liberal “Promise Recycling” Update

As the climate crisis worsens and the pandemic’s second wave rages, people and communities need a just recovery and a Green New Deal. The Liberal’s recent Fall Economic Update failed to deliver on the bold transformation needed to rise to the challenges we’re facing.

It’s clearer than ever that we need an intersectional approach to our intersecting crises. To name just a few, we need: green and affordable public housing (as well as moratoriums on rent and evictions); a dramatic expansion of support for accessible, safe, affordable public transit; supports for front line workers, including paid sick days, status for migrant workers, and far more personal protective equipment (PPEs) for health care workers; a more just and equitable food system; to uphold Indigenous rights and sovereignty, including a moratorium on energy work camps during the pandemic; supports for people with disabilities who are getting left behind by the government’s pandemic response; and meaningful progress on eliminating systemic racism and the rise of fascism.

These are just a few pillars of what movements are calling for as part of a just recovery and building blocks for a Green New Deal. Instead, the Liberal government’s Fall Economic Update focused on reiterating previous promises that the government has yet to deliver on.

One silver lining, thanks to movement organizing, is that there doesn’t currently appear to be a major push from the federal government for austerity cuts to public services. However, this is tempered by the fact that many public services are stretched beyond their previous funding needs because of the pandemic and that the government has been hinting at austerity to come once the pandemic is over.

The work ahead will include rejecting any attempts to impose austerity and privatization. We need a just recovery, not more cuts and corporate bailouts.

We’re still waiting for climate and water justice

If this government were a restaurant it would keep serving us everything on the menu other than what we actually ordered.

Trudeau’s government says it is “preparing to invest up to $100 billion over the next three fiscal years” for a “resilient recovery.” However, many of these are vague and/or recycled promises. And none of these promises come close to the ambition of a Green New Deal, which is what’s required to address the scale of the crisis.

The government reiterated its pledge to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. While that may sound ambitious, it’s just a way of avoiding climate action when it really counts: right now. You can read more about what needs changing in the government’s net zero legislation, Bill C-12.

The government is also pledging a paltry “$150 million over three years” for zero-emission vehicle recharging stations. Instead, the government should be taking car and truck factories into public ownership to mass produce electrified public transit vehicles, and the necessary public recharging infrastructure to support their use as well as sustained funding for public transit systems.

Despite promising interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for home energy retrofits in the last election campaign, the government appears to be offering grants up to $5,000.

While the government’s economic update pledges “$1.5 billion starting in 2020-21, and $114.1 million per year ongoing thereafter” to end long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations, it is admitting it won’t keep its promise to end these advisories by March 2021. (Take action – call on the federal government to fulfill their promise made in 2015 to put an end to all long-term drinking water advisories in all First Nations.)

Fall Economic Update falls far short of a just recovery or a Green New Deal

The Fall Economic Update contained some modest beginnings for a plan to reduce carbon emissions, but they do not add up to a plan that can get us to climate safety, and they don’t get us anywhere near our Paris targets.

We need to see robust accountability come through in Bill C-12, the Climate Accountability Act, including incentives and penalties for not meeting targets. We need real targets that can’t be changed at the Minister’s discretion. We need to talk seriously about a carbon budget that includes both downstream and upstream emissions. And we need monitoring and oversight conducted by independent experts free from fossil fuel industry influence.

We need a just recovery that transforms our society so that it can provide for those who have been made vulnerable by the systems we have today. This fiscal update gives us a little taste of some parts of that transformation: movement on childcare, gestures towards real climate action, renewed commitment to end boil water advisories in Indigenous communities, increasing taxes on some multinational corporations. But none of these commitments go far enough.

To have effective climate action and robust social systems that really work for people, we need to see a lot more investment than we heard about this week, and we can pay for it by making sure multimillionaires and corporations pay their fair share of taxes

We can build the public pressure for a just recovery and a Green New Deal by organizing in our communities. And we’re supporting grassroots community organizing from coast to coast to do just that. Click to get involved in your community.