Where the Liberals stand on a Green New Deal

Top Line: To date, the Liberals haven’t rolled out their 2019 election platform, so all we have to go on is what they did with their last four years in office. Their record can be summed up quite simply: not good enough.

Photo Credit: Claire Foran

Listening to the science

If you listen to Liberal candidates, you’ll hear them talk about climate science and the IPCC report, but during their last four years in office, Liberal climate policy fell far short of what the IPCC demands. Don’t get us wrong, the Liberals have done some good things when it comes to climate action – phasing out coal fired electricity most notably – but their actions simply don’t match the scale of the climate emergency.

In 2015, they adopted the woefully low 2030 target set by Stephen Harper, locked in that target as our global commitment, and then proceeded to put us on track to miss that target by nearly 90MT of carbon emissions. According to some analysis, it’ll take 200+ years for the Liberal climate plan to get us close to the emissions cuts that science demands. But, the Liberal approach to climate action can probably best be summed up by their actions this past June when they voted to declare a climate emergency one day, then turned around and approved the climate-wrecking TransMountain pipeline the next.


Creating millions of good jobs

Despite their claims that the “environment and the economy go together,” the Liberals’ green jobs policy has been pretty hard to find. In fact, most of the Liberals’ argument for creating jobs in a just transition has been tied to approving massive fossil fuel projects like the TransMountain pipeline, effectively arguing that our only path away from fossil fuels is to put more people to work extracting and shipping fossil fuels.

The lone bright spot for the Liberals on this front was the Just Transition Task Force created to support workers and communities impacted by their coal phase-out. But, the scope of that task force was limited, and it fell short of the kind of ambitious, just transition we need to reach 100% renewable energy for all.


Dignity, justice & equity for all

Justin Trudeau talks a big game about social justice, but linking climate action to tackling social and economic policy hasn’t been a priority for the Liberals while in government. Their cornerstone climate policy is a carbon tax that, like many of their climate policies, has major loopholes for big polluters and wealthy corporations. Their plans haven’t included much in the way of policy to support climate migrants or communities facing the frontline impacts of climate change.

That being said, the Liberals have made some promises on this front, including pledging to implement a pharmacare program.


Respecting Indigenous rights & sovereignty

The Liberals also talk a big game when it comes to respecting Indigenous rights. But when the rubber hits the road, they leave a lot to be desired. While the Liberals claim to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and they voted for Bill 262 – the private member’s bill that would have embedded UNDRIP into Canadian law – they also like to pick and choose their own definition of Free Prior and Informed Consent. It’s particularly noticeable when it comes to their decisions to approve massive fossil fuel projects like the TransMountain pipeline despite the objections of numerous Indigenous nations.

On top of this, Trudeau campaigned in 2015 with a promise to end 105 boil water advisories on First Nations reserves but as of early 2019, 62 long-term boil water advisories remained in effect.

This post is part of a 4-part series that looks at how party platforms stack up against a Green New Deal. To see our four pillars of a Green New Deal and analysis of party platforms, click here.