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Protecting Our Oceans: Do the Greens Go Far Enough?

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Canada has the longest marine coastline in the world. With 202,080 km of coast (almost 4 times that of our nearest competitor, Indonesia) you might expect us Canadians to see ourselves as protectors of the world’s oceans. If you looked at the policies of parties in the current Federal election on oceans you would be disappointed.

The Green Party has a pretty good collection of policy on the oceans and the fisheries. You can read it at http://www.greenparty.ca/…/p…/vision-green/economy/fisheries.

Unfortunately, I don’t think even our policy really comes to terms with the massive changes happening in the world’s oceans. Recent reports tell us that “by 2100, Earth will have an entirely different ocean.” We are facing a massive disaster. Take a look at the report that I have linked to below.

The Green Party policy is much more detailed and ambitious than the policies of other parties, however. The Conservative ocean policy, for example, at www.conservative.ca/…/docum…/Policy-Declaration-Feb-2014.pdf focuses on sovereignty issues.

The one statement on climate change in the Conservative policy book is “We believe that an effective international emissions reduction regime on climate change must be truly global and must include binding targets for all the world’s major emitters, including China and the United States.” That statement was designed to justify the government’s commitment to doing nothing. We still have not heard a real response to the commitments made by China and the US. The real point here is that the Conservatives apparently still don’t know what is happening to the oceans.

The Liberal party, has posted its ocean policy at http://www.liberal.ca/…/protecting-our-freshwater-and-ocea…/. (You can also compare Green policies with the Liberal’s 2011 policy book. I have not found a more recent detailed policy statement.) The Liberals seem to have have a small collection of fairly good individual policies but very limited understanding of the bigger picture. Either they don’t understand or they are afraid to raise climate change in a serious way after Harper beat up on Dion in 2008.

The NDP has a combined section on Agriculture and Oceans, as well as other sections on Energy, a Clean Canada and Climate change in its’ policy book at: http://danielbeals.ndp.ca/…/ndp_policy_book_2013-04-17_0.pdf. Again there are good points in the platform but not much backbone about facing or talking about climate change.

What is striking when you look at the policies of all the parties is that Canadian politicians don’t seem very concerned about about the biggest long run threat to Canada and to Canadians’ well being. Even we Greens are putting out a pretty soft message. We may have the best and most extensive policies about the ocean, as we have the best and most extensive policies about climate change, but we are playing the election game and I think many of us believe that the public is not ready to face this scary issue.

Maybe, though, the parties are playing a tactical game. I have some sympathy for the view that Mr Harper is the biggest threat, since he has almost single-handedly kept climate change off the Canadian agenda and done much to delay international action. Maybe defeating Harper is the only path to dealing with climate change. What do you think?1439490295302207


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