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article imageOp-Ed: Ontario election: Where do the parties stand on the environment?

By Tim Sandle     May 7, 2018 in Politics
Toronto - The 42nd Ontario general election takes place on on June 7, 2018, and among the leading parties there are the established positions on taxation rates, health and education. One more interesting area of policy debate centers on the environment.
The four main parties contesting the 124 seats of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario are (in terms of current seats held): Liberal, Progressive Conservative, New Democratic, plus the Green Party, who currently hold no seats. The assembly is the second largest Canadian provincial deliberative assembly by number of members, after the National Assembly of Quebec. The Liberals won the previous election in 2014.
The focus of much of the media coverage has been on taxes, roads, health and education. While each of these is an important subject to the electorate, environmental issues also matter, in terms of a sizable number of voters, and for the country (and North America) as a whole. So where do the main parties stand on green issues?
Liberals
The centrist Liberal Party is focused on developing a “competitive and low‐carbon economy”. To achieve this, the party is committing $1.7 billion across a three year period to support energy-saving programs. This will come under the direction of the Green Ontario Fund.
The Liberals also plan to demarcate $52 million, also across a three year period, for research into alternate technologies to address pollution concerns like toxic chemicals, excessive algae and road salt. There is also a committee to to improve sewer management.
The Liberals have also pledged $15 million to be set aside, again across a three year period, for forests, wetlands and lake improvement and protection. Another 'green' initiative is to invest $90 million to encourage and make safe commuter cycling.
The Liberal Party site and policy statements can be found here.
Progressive Conservative Party
The right-wing Progressive Conservative Party is more focused on repealing environmental policies than developing new ones, according to its main policy statements. The party is aiming to repeal Ontario’s existing cap and trade system (which operates a cap on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions businesses can emit). The party will also oppose the federally-mandated minimum price on carbon emissions, and end Ontario’s Green Energy Act.
The Conservatives also intend to cancel all current energy projects currently in the pre-construction phase and to issue a moratorium on new energy contracts. In terms of its main environmental plank, the Conservatives have declared they will continue to support the greenbelt.
The party adopts a pro-nuclear power stance.
The Progressive Conservative site and range of policies can be found here.
New Democratic Party (NDP)
The NDP social democrats have announced an intention to divert revenue from Ontario’s cap-and-trade program in order to fund part of a new environmental platform. This includes using a $50 million scheme of no-interest and on-bill home retrofitting, designed to help residents pay for power-saving technology into their homes.
The NDP also plans, according to Macleans, to direct 25 per cent of cap-and-trade revenue towards rural, northern and lower-income homes as well as trade-exposed industries. They also aim to tackle mercury waste in rivers and to offer a compensation fund for this affected from the ill-effects of mercury poisoning. The NDP has embedded environmental stewardship into its constitution.
The NDP website and policy platform can be found here.
Green Party
The Green Party of Ontario is more centrist than other Green Parties (which veer more to the left). Its main policy plank is with green tax shifting, which is part of a strategy of ecological fiscal reform. The main proposal is a gradual reduction in taxes funded by new resource-based taxes directed to the point of entry into the economy (essentially carbon taxes). A further carbon related measure is to support Ontario’s tree planting goals and expand the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program to reward landowners for planting trees.
The main environmental focus is with tackling climate change, while still maintaining economic growth; and reducing pollution in the sectors transportation, buildings and industry; and easing traffic gridlock. With traffic the party supports fleet electrification, encouraging the public and private sector to purchase electric vehicles.
The Green Party's website and range of policy offerings can be found here.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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