Canadian politeness has no place in climate politics

Photo: 
With Canada’s 2019 federal election campaign officially underway, now is not the time to extinguish the climate debate—it’s time to ramp it up.
 
A recent Globe and Mail opinion disparaged the emphasis on climate rhetoric as the upcoming election approaches. The contention between the Progressive Conservative and Liberal parties’ environmental platforms has led critics to condemn the fierce disagreement as diversion from traditional political civility.
 
But political civility doesn’t achieve anything in the fight against the climate crisis.
 
We don’t need compromise to reduce Canada’s carbon emissions and reach our 2015 Paris Agreement targets—we need bold, radical action. 
 
If anything, when it comes to climate policy, the division between Canada’s four main parties is not distinct enough. The Liberals champion carbon pricing, but Prime Minister Trudeau’s government purchased the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline. Green Party leader Elizabeth May is calling for Canada to move away from foreign oil (and oil in general), but is content to supplement that with the Alberta oil industry in the meantime.
 
American politics have seen an uptick in drastic policy proposals addressing the climate crisis with the seriousness it deserves—from Bernie Sanders’ call for a nationwide ban on fracking to the Democrats’ New Green Deal. Canadian politicians, however, have failed to present carbon emission solutions of the same progressive calibre. 
 
There isn’t any time for our federal parties to waste on supposed civility when forest fires and extreme weather events abound. 
 
Political polarization surrounding climate action is inevitable. The looming climate crisis weighs heavily on the minds of the majority of Canadian voters. Skirting around the issue won’t suffice—Canadians deserve thorough, concrete, and detailed plans of action to inform their votes.
 
The conventions of Canada’s democracy discourage politicians from addressing the long-term impacts of the climate crisis—to citizens’ detriment. That’s why bold political action is required if Canada is going to do its part to reduce carbon emissions on a global scale. 
 
 
Traditional four- and five-year terms in office mean a government’s goals are often too short-sighted. Parties shy away from expensive proposals to reduce carbon emissions out of fear of alienating voters rather than pushing for sustainable plans for the future. But climate rhetoric is essential now more than ever: it allows voters to decide where their vote will have the greatest positive environmental impact. 
 
Politicians need to champion long-term environmental action—without fearing the repercussions—before the damage to our planet is too great.
 
 

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.