Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May would work with any other party in a minority Parliament with a serious climate plan—and even thinks she could influence Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives to drop their crusade against carbon pricing “if it means the difference for them between governing or spending more time in opposition,” The Canadian Press is reporting today.
The news breaks just days after a major policy split emerged within the Greens, with party leaders in two provinces calling for a faster tar sands/oil sands shutdown than the federal party platform proposes.
“People change their minds when they see the dynamic of a way a Parliament is assembled and maybe think, ‘Killing carbon taxes isn’t such a good idea if the only way I get to be prime minister is by keeping them,’ ” May said, envisioning the influence Greens could wield if no party held a clear majority after the October 21 election.
“I think it’s really important to communicate with Canadians how our democracy works and that a minority Parliament is the very best thing, if, and this is a big if, you have parties and MPs in Parliament who are committed to working together,” she added.
“By ‘working together’,” CP adds, “she specifically means to slow climate change with policies that drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, don’t build any more oil pipelines, and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy as fast as possible.”
But forming an alliance with the party most closely allied with Canada’s fossil industry might not be what May’s supporters have in mind as a path to power.
Last week, “Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Green Party of Quebec, is spearheading the dissent and calling on the federal Greens to change their environmental platform ahead of the national election October 21,” the Toronto Star reports. “In an interview Wednesday, Tyrrell accused federal Green Leader Elizabeth May of being too soft on the oilsands because her party’s platform would allow the industry to continue operating for decades to come.”
Earlier this month, Tyrell launched a website, GreensRising.ca, urging May to change the platform to support a “rapid shut down” of the tar sands/oil sands in the first mandate of a Green government, “while investing heavily to support the estimated 140,000 people who work in the industry,” the Star states. Saskatchewan Green leader Shawn Setyo supports the call, and the Star says nearly 500 people had signed a petition on the site as of mid-last week.
“It’s very important for us as a Green party that we oppose the tar sands in the strongest way possible,” Tyrrell told the Star. “The Green party didn’t get this far by moderating itself.”
The website quotes Deputy Green Leader Daniel Green of Montreal, who believes the party can change its platform before the election if it chooses to. “As a party we want to be challenged,” he said. “If people tell us that we can go even further and prove it to us, we will. As Elizabeth said, it’s kind of a placeholder, there are things in our Mission Possible energy transition proposal that could be augmented. We will look at the details, the devil’s in the details, and we are prepared to do it. So we’re inviting the listeners to challenge us.”
The site documents May’s support for longer-term tar sands/oil sands production and accuses her of “misrepresenting the facts by downplaying the significance of tar sands emissions.”
In a phone interview with the Star, May “defended her party’s plan as a ‘hugely ambitious’ blueprint for political action to slash emissions in accordance with what the international community of climate scientists has called for,” writes Ottawa-based reporter Alex Ballingall. “The plan seeks all-party co-operation to tackle the crisis of climate change and rapidly reduce emissions by 60% below 2005 levels by 2030—double the government’s current target—and then to net zero by 2050.”
She said the plan “would also halt all new development of fossil fuels in Canada—including multi-billion-dollar natural gas export projects—and stop all oil and gas imports from other countries,” Ballingall adds. “In their place, May proposes that Canada use energy that’s already produced here for domestic needs while the country shifts to 100% renewable energy. By 2050, the Greens would ensure all bitumen produced in Canada would be used only for the petrochemical industry, but May said the country will need to stop burning fossil fuels ‘well before’ that.”
“As we go off of fossil fuels, we should use Canadian oil so that we also give Canadian workers transition time” to other industries, May said. “We have to have unleashed a lot of disruptive technologies that mean, by 2050, people won’t be looking around for gas stations because there won’t be any.”