“Historic opportunity” ahead for the climate under Canada’s new leadership


High hopes are sweeping through Canada as the country’s oil-driven government finally collapsed. After nearly 10 years in office, Stephen Harper’s Conservative administration will be replaced by Liberal party front runner Justin Trudeau. Under the former Prime Minister’s rule, Canada put fossil fuels at the forefront of the political platform, including pushing dirty tar sands development, promoting pipeline projects, and pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol. All signs pointed to the end of the Harper era as the economy nosedived following the oil market’s crash earlier this year, with the loonie suffering and emissions skyrocketing under his administration. As Canadians usher in their new leader, expectations are running high for the Prime Minister-elect to live up to claims for robust change. With less than 40 days until Paris UN meetings, the pressure is now on for Trudeau to turn around Canada’s reputation from a climate laggard to a climate leader.


Key Points

  • Canadians chose the hope for a future that respects jobs, justice and the environment over the politics of fear and reliance on dangerous oil. With a resounding rejection of a Conservative government that had a 10 year history of suppressing public input on energy projects, shutting out First Nations communities and dividing the nation politically, Canada’s electorate overwhelming chose a government that has promised to shift towards rebuilding the nation’s failing oil based economy and respecting the input of all, not just big energy companies.
  • Stephen Harper is the latest climate laggard to be ousted from office ahead of this year’s climate negotiations. From Australia to Canada, “anti-climate world leaders keep losing their jobs” as voters everywhere are fed up with their staunchly pro-fossil fuel leaders. It was only a matter of time until Stephen Harper’s Conservative government would be ousted, and last night, voters delivered a message that was loud and clear.
  • For the Liberal party to deliver on their “ambitious plan to reduce […] emissions in the country,” pipelines need to go. While on the campaign trail, Justin Trudeau expressed intentions to step up for the climate on behalf of Canada during Paris UN meetings in December.  Meanwhile, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands are rising faster than the country’s ability to curb them. If Canada wants to as a real leader in the global transition, the country needs to move away from all tar sands-driven projects, such as the Trudeau-backed Keystone XL pipeline.


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Tar Sands


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  • If Canada is to be a climate leader, we urge the new government to announce clear, strong climate pollution targets before the Paris negotiations begin. To do this, the new Prime Minister should immediately schedule a meeting with Canada’s Premiers to develop this target. – Tim Gray, Executive Director Environmental Defence
  • “Canadians voted for change and change isn’t only about who sits in the Prime Minister’s Office. After nine years of Conservative rule, we need a federal government committed to reinvigorating our democracy, restoring environmental protections, and taking bold action on climate change. The Liberal government has an unprecedented opportunity to reject boom and bust polluting industries by stopping tar sands expansion and making Canada a leader in renewable energies. It’s now time to say yes to a brighter future and farewell to politics of fear and environmental degradation.” – Joanna Kerr, executive director of Greenpeace Canada
  • “It is a great day for Canada and also potentially for the climate. Canadians have voted Prime Minister Stephen Harper out of office so we stand ready to welcome Canada back in the UNFCCC process as a country that will take these negotiations seriously. The new government led by Justin Trudeau can show they’re serious by turning its back on fossil fuel expansion and resubmitting a stronger national climate action plan ahead of COP21.” – Patrick Bonin, Greenpeace Canada
  • “Justin Trudeau’s victory shows that the Canadian people are no longer willing to rely on 19th century energy ideas to fuel their economy. Canada can now move on from short-sighted economic policies, failed commitments on climate change, and a weak climate promise that lags behind the rest of the world and re-engage with the world on building a clean energy future.” – Lena Moffitt, Director of the Stop Dirty Fuels campaign, Sierra Club
  • “What you have with Prime Minister Trudeau is the possibility for change. He really has an opportunity to be a leader in First Nation issues, environmental issues and democratic rights and freedoms, versus a politician […] So while, you know, there’s hope and there’s possibility here for Prime Minister Trudeau if he really take this and goes forward, we still have a lot of concerns, just based on Liberal history.” Pamela Palmater, Mi’kmaw lawyer and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick

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