Jagmeet Singh in Toronto on Sept. 7, 2018. (Brian de Rivera Simon/Getty Images for eOne)
The Green New Deal, a plan to decarbonize the economy while ushering in a greater level of social and economic justice, has become a key policy debate in the United States, with major segments of the Democratic Party, including some presidential candidates, endorsing the plan to varying degrees. The goal of the plan isn’t just to cut fossil fuel consumption but also to do so while investing in jobs, education, infrastructure, health care and a wide array of programs designed to challenge the status quo.
In Canada, the GND has sparked great interest among progressives, who are looking for a plan that will help avoid climate catastrophe while not leaving behind the working class and marginalized populations. A few years ago, a document called the Leap Manifesto was drafted by a group of Canadian environmentalists. Though it had some of the elements of current progressive plans, it failed to capture the national imagination and was viewed as insufficiently concerned with reforms beyond decarbonization.
But things are different now. Today, the youth, both around the world and in Canada, have made climate justice a prevailing issue. Climate science, too, has made it ever clearer just how short a window we have to reduce our carbon footprint. And, crucially, the GND has offered Canadians framing and language that are more acceptable than those of the Leap.
Canada’s political outlook is also different than it was a couple years ago. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals — who ran on an aura of progressivism — have left many environmental activists disappointed by missing emission targets and buying a multibillion-dollar pipeline. In part because of this, the Green Party is polling at unprecedented numbers and recently won a second seat in the House of Commons for the first time in party history, with projections giving them a few more in October’s general election. In this context, it is clear that green issues are motivating voters like never before.
This is where Jagmeet Singh and his New Democratic Party come in. Canada’s party of the social democratic left is polling below its 2015 election results and, while still poised to finish with the third-most seats in Parliament, is seeing the Greens polling closer than ever before. Not to be outdone, the NDP has released a bold plan that would act as a GND for Canada.
Not only does it commit to green objectives such ending fossil fuel subsidies, setting emissions targets, banning single-use plastics and incentivizing electric vehicles, but it also commits to a national retrofitting program that will affect all housing stock in Canada by 2050 and will help create an estimated 300,000 jobs. The plan also includes working with municipalities to build free electric public transit by 2030. MORE