Our continuing coverage of Canada’s federal election September 20 carries the #Elxn44 tag. You can use the search engine on our site to find other stories in the series.
The narrow path to climate victory in Canada’s next House of Commons begins with electing climate champions to a minority parliament, says author and climate emergency strategist Seth Klein, based on his review of party platforms for the current federal campaign.
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Klein, team lead and strategy director at the Climate Emergency Unit, laid out five criteria for assessing the parties and their platforms: whether they’ll spend what it takes to win on climate, build new institutions to confront the crisis, substitute voluntary action with mandatory measures, tell the truth about the scope of the emergency, and address the climate emergency in tandem with the inequality crisis.
But after the platforms have been assessed and the votes have been counted, he told The Energy Mix last week, the most important question will be the structure of the next parliament and the climate results it can deliver.
“We know from evidence that minority governments generally produce better climate policies than majority ones,” Klein said. In this election, “there are parts of these platforms that I like across parties, and the nice thing about minority governments is cooperation, and a chance for everybody to put their best ideas forward.”
Minority governments must also be more accountable, since “they can’t govern with impunity for four years,” he added. “They have to constantly win support of the public and the confidence of the House. So instead of having to fight about it four years from now, we the public—we the majority of citizens who are climate anxious, and becoming a majority who see climate as an emergency—we get ongoing openings to push for more change in a minority government.”
He cited the Trudeau government’s climate accountability act, Bill C-12, as a measure that was “far from terrific” when it was finalized, but “would have been truly crappy if they’d been able to just pass their first draft. But they couldn’t. They had to compromise.”
That potential for cooperation underscores the need for MPs of all political stripes who are prepared to be bold in the face of the climate emergency, as more and more constituents expect them to be.
“We have to increase the strength of ‘The Squad’,” Klein said. “We have to elect a much larger contingent of future climate emergency champions, people who get it and are in it to win. For whom this is why they’re going into politics—to do this, to get this job done.”
Those candidates also have be running in constituencies they have a realistic chance of winning, he added. “If don’t have it in your riding, find someone in a neighbouring riding and do everything you can to get them elected,” he advised.
If the September 20 vote does produce another minority parliament, climate hawks will have make their voices heard with whichever party holds the balance of power. After the 2019 election, “I did not see the NDP prioritizing climate action as a key condition for their support in maintaining the confidence of the House,” Klein said. “After this election, they must do that, and for that to happen we need to elect a much larger contingent of true climate emergency champions to that caucus.”
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