Canada must talk about the real challenges facing our country -- our response to the greatest threat humanity faces, climate change. We should be talking about trade deals, endangered species, protecting water resources, our responsibilities to the rest of the world and so much more. Instead, this election has bogged down into "dead cat" distractions like niqabs, an issue that affects almost no one!
The Volkswagen debacle is bad enough in itself, but it also raises questions about automaker practices, pollution, emissions standards and testing and the implications of our rampant car culture. Volkswagen cheated on regulations designed to protect human health and the environment, and the consequences are increased rates of asthma, lung disease, cancer and death.
Five clear and simple things the next parliament could do. Each is free to the government, or any cost is paid back. All of them will produce strong gains in reducing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, and taken together, will restore our international position of leadership. The only obstacle is making the decision to act. And that will be up to who is elected on Oct. 19.
From November 30 to December 11, 2015, world leaders will gather in Paris in an attempt once more to negotiate an international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and hence global warming. Whether or not society chooses to take the necessary steps to mitigate climate change ultimately depends on the extent to which we value the importance of intergenerational equity.
A carbon tax is as a useful fiscal tool that can be tailored to meet both the environmental and economic goals of any given jurisdiction. How great would it be if Nova Scotia were to join hands with British Columbia as the second province to enact a carbon tax, and serve as climate leadership "bookends," inspiring all the others in between to follow suit.
Climate change is a critically important issue for the economy. The Clean Economy Alliance, which launched Wednesday, has united under some common principles to support Ontario's commitment to climate action and to make some suggestions for how the province should proceed. We've come together because addressing climate change can benefit our economy, and failing to address climate change would be very costly. Climate change has been called the single largest threat to the global economy, which is why the World Bank says a four-degree world must be avoided.
The risks and costs associated with climate change are already mounting--ice storms, severe flooding, crop losses, damage to critical infrastructure, $3.2 billion in extreme weather related Canadian insurance costs in 2013 alone. Yet, the climate crisis is rarely talked about at Queen's Park. The lone exception is Ontario's Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller, who has stirred up controversy with reports pointing out that Ontario has no plan to meet its 2020 or 2050 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.
Do you like meat? Sorry, expect the price of your meat to go up more than other foods that produce less greenhouse gas emissions (that also will apply to your pet food, by the way). Do you like fashionable clothing and buy new clothes annually? Expect the price of those new threads to increase under the new carbon price.
Plenty of Vancouver's latte-sipping, seawall-jogging condo dwellers support the carbon tax. But so does everyone else in British Columbia keen to secure a better future for his or her community. Not that you'd know that after listening to Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation who suggests that rural British Columbians universally loathe the province's world-leading climate policy. Bateman also rehashes the myth that carbon pricing unfairly punishes interior and northern residents, because they tend to use more energy. He is mistaken on both counts.
The "national energy strategy" recently debated by the provincial premiers is going nowhere fast, not least because the "national" part is completely meaningless. If one province needs the cooperation of another province, for example, to export power or resources across provincial boundaries -- pipelines from Alberta, hydro power from Newfoundland -- this is a matter to be resolved by the affected provinces, not Ottawa.
Despite the need for bold leadership to rise above the dissonant cacophony of provincial voices and ensure concrete progress towards Canada's green energy future, the federal government remains content to muddle along, making ad hoc one-off deals with provinces. Canadians must directly challenge this incoherence.