Comparing Federal Environmental Party Platforms (06/29/21)

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

Within the last year, Canada’s three leading political parties—the Liberal Party of Canada, Conservative Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party (NDP)—have released details of their environmental platforms. It’s always beneficial to see where platforms align and where they differ, so we’ve summarized each party’s position to make it easy to compare and contrast. One important note: We’ll only be looking at each party’s environmental positions, which of course, doesn’t reflect the entirety of their campaigns. We’re also not here to argue with or detail the effectiveness of the points made by each party, either. In this piece, we’re giving you the information to help you make an informed decision.

The Liberals are focused on five key elements: investing in energy-efficient housing, implementing clean power and transportation, putting a price on pollution, focusing on clean Canadian industries, and caring for communities through environmental protection. The Conservatives will focus on an improved carbon taxation system, an increase in zero-emission transportation and lower emission industrial practices, increased use of renewable energy, investments towards the protection of forests and grasslands, and imposing tariffs on highly polluting countries. For the NDPs, their six categories include climate action, sustainable job creation, infrastructure improvements, transportation changes, carbon-free energy and protection for Canada’s natural landscapes.

All parties have addressed the need for carbon pricing. The Liberal Party will increase the price over time, whereas the Conservative Party has decided on a capped amount of $50 per tonne. Both the NDP and Conservative Party have aligned their platforms to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2030. The Liberal and Conservative Parties expect Canada to have net-zero emissions by 2050, yet the Conservatives note that this alone will not mitigate the effects of climate change. The NDP’s plan would involve all newly built buildings using net-zero energy by 2030. The Liberal Party and NDP will ban single-use plastics to reduce plastic pollution in oceans and freshwater systems. Both parties demonstrate an understanding that water systems are crucial to Canadian communities and the Canadian economy. The Liberal Party also plans to implement the Aquaculture Act while investing in projects related to fishing in and around coastal and Indigenous communities. The NDP approach will involve expanding marine-protected areas with the hope of preserving marine life and lessening the extent of ocean acidification. It seems the Liberal government is focusing on initiatives in support of the communities directly affected by the health of Canadian waters, while the New Democratic Party is addressing the health of the water systems at its source.

One point of difference stems from the initiatives each party uses to tackle the common issues. For clean transportation, the NDP party plans to invest in zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) and expand public transportation systems to accommodate more remote communities. It hopes to ‘electrify’ transit and fund zero-emission vehicles by 2030. The party believes this combination will make public transportation more accessible, increasing use while lowering overall emissions. The Conservative Party believes focusing on public transit is not realistic to the needs of most remote Canadians. The party emphasizes investing solely in ZEVs. This approach would include funding domestic electric vehicle production and setting national standards for carbon emissions. The party expects 30% of vehicles sold in 2030 to be zero-emissions, whereas, by 2040, the New Democratic Party projects 100% of vehicle sales to be zero-emissions. The Conservative Party also proposes a Personal Low Carbon Savings Account rather than the Carbon Tax implemented by the Liberal government. These two approaches differ in that the Personal Low Carbon Savings Account would ensure each Canadian gets back precisely what they pay into it—no revenue would remain with the government. One other difference is each party’s view on pipelines. Both the Liberal and Conservative parties are in support of pipeline expansion. The Conservatives have noted that they will alter this sector by including Indigenous partners in order to restore and respect the natural resources. The NDPs, however, believe any funding toward oil and gas companies should be reallocated to renewable energy initiatives, as this approach would lower carbon emissions, further respect Indigenous rights and provide new domestic job opportunities.

All parties have actively addressed climate change within their platforms and are taking what they believe to be necessary steps in achieving their environmental benchmarks. Especially after this last year, it is promising to see procedures, funds and resources used toward green energy, carbon reduction and environmental sustainability. Though there are differences in priorities and timelines, each party has proposed similar remedies for the climate concerns of our country.