Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the US Congresswoman spearheading the Green New Deal, speaks at a community event on May 28, 2018. Photo by Corey Torpie, via handout.
Last night, Jagmeet Singh defied the doubters and critics, winning his seat in Burnaby South.
“If the NDP want to turn their fortunes around by October, their best (and maybe only) hope is to bring the bold vision of a Green New Deal to Canada.”
It’s a good result for Singh, and a breath of fresh air for a New Democratic Party that’s been struggling to raise money, floundering in the polls, and has seemed to be teetering on the edge of a very public internal civil war for the past few months. But, as Singh himself mentioned in his victory remarks, now the real campaign begins. If the NDP want to turn their fortunes around by October, their best (and maybe only) hope is to bring the bold vision of a Green New Deal to Canada.
If you haven’t heard of it yet, the Green New Deal is a political idea to tackle climate change with WWII-scale economic and social mobilization. Named for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda that pulled the United States out of the Great Depression, the Green New Deal has been rapidly picking up steam south of the border. Championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and now supported by dozens of congressional representatives and senators (along with every major Democratic presidential hopeful), the Green New Deal has become a clarion call for action at the scale and pace of the climate crisis.
But the Green New Deal isn’t just a good idea. With the campaign and organizing savvy of the Sunrise Movement behind it, polling numbers show wide geographic and cross-partisan support (especially among youth). It’s become a winning platform for Democrats and, if they imported it in the right way, it could do the same for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP.
It’s no secret that, in 2015, Justin Trudeau’s success was due, in large measure, to his ability to outflank the NDP on critical progressive issues — including climate change. It’s also true that his majority victory was driven by a dramatic uptick in youth voter turnout — 57.1 percent of eligible 18-24 year olds voted in 2015 compared to 38.8 per cent in 2011 — that largely showed up for the Liberals.
It’s also clear that Canadians, especially young people, want to see more from our federal government when it comes to climate change.
A Mainstreet Research poll released last November found that 76.1 per cent of Canadians accept that climate change is real and caused by human activity, and that nearly 60 per cent of Canadians agree that the government has to solve the issue of climate change even if doing so impacts economic growth.
The good thing about a Green New Deal is that it would create jobs and support working families through a federal jobs guarantee program. Although we don’t have direct polling on such a proposal in Canada, a 2016 Iron & Earth poll found that nearly 70 per cent of energy workers support a time-bound transition to 100 per cent renewable energy in Canada. That same poll found that 80-95 per cent would support government programs to support workers through the transition. Among the general public, these numbers are even higher. MORE