The following is one post in a series: “Reporting Back: Green Party of Canada Policy Conference, Halifax“
After hearing all five presentations, we broke out into five workshops, which were tasked with making policy recommendations (not policy resolutions) to the party. The following are my notes of each workshop’s recommendations.
Environmental Tax Shifting And Energy
Need a broad-based approach.
- Eliminate the tax breaks related to the fossil fuel industry. Use them to push for alternative energy. Subsidies should be used to help industries get started or though tough times.
- Increase to 100% Accelerated Capital Cost allowances for Low Impact removal’s with a sunset clause (this is an initial investment to get the industry started, with the idea that the market will make the sources viable at a later date).
- Suite of Environmental Taxes (IA. Free bates for vehicles, carbon taxes, conserve public ownership of rail beds). One of the problems facing rail is that the beds are owned by private companies, which means levies are put on them. Carbon taxes and consumption taxes should modify the public’s habits to conserve more energy and use more efficient processes.
- institute programs for increasing energy efficiency in all sectors. Work with provinces, but Natural Resources Canada has a role.
- Establish measurable targets for emissions reductions.
Persuading the Public and Diminishing Resistance
Intergovernmental relationships; need to foster relationships. Also, with unions, corporations, corporate accounting firms.
Media tends to favour the status quo.
Need to make people sense the urgency without feeling hopeless.
Working in an international context.
Internet / educational videos.
Contests to generate advertising levels
Target messaging to groups (unions, corporations)
Pilot tax-shifting projects (house-wide, village-wide) to show how it actually affects different people.
Work at the riding level with specific examples
Scare tactics can be effective, but have we had our fill? It’s more constructive to present solutions. Do some A/B (you can choose this or that) advertising. (“This is your planet. This is your planet on oil. Any questions?”)
Candidate must be well-versed to speak to specific issues in their riding.
Must talk to children about the larger issues, even if they can’t understand the complexities of ETS.
Make sure that it’s non-partisan. Must appeal to uniquely human values. Make it simple, don’t overload people with information. Needs to be a phased-in education system. Training programs to make sure that people who might lose their jobs under ETS can find new employment.
Where to shift taxes to? What sectors?
Tax the negatives to decrease harmful activity.
Taxes must be recycled within the same industry. (Exception: education.)
Use GPI sectors and indicators to guide us.
It was a difficult mission to say only “where to,” because we wanted to look at the whole picture.
Specific sectors: health, agriculture, energy.
Education of more health=-care workers
Preventive medicine and education
Organic soil is important. Farmers must be supported. Indicators must be created.
Local farm markets are crucial.
Need for organic certification.
Support for natural areas (biodiversity and carbon sequestration)
Need to change behaviour.
Research and development.
There is a public and private aspect, which will have different recommendations. (Applies to all categories.)
Need income tax reduction and rebate for lower-income people.
Green energy infrastructure.
We have to live at a level that others can achieve. Live with a lower standard of living. Shorter work-week, with more leisure time.
The Green Party should say that “no growth” is the number one priority. (David Orton) Explain how it will benefit combating global warming. (Other suggestion: we should have no specific policy on growth.)
We need to establish principals and create constituencies, not just campaign during the election.
The values of the green party do have a lot of support. Need to focus on PR.
Houses need to be built with a longer life span.
Growth in the form of the GDP is not a measure of wellbeing. It should therefore not be the focus of public policy. We need multiple measures that have been developed and identified. We need to focus on the GDP and livelihood.
Disclaimer: Forests are a provincial jurisdiction.
- GPC needs to develop a long-range view: minimally 60-100 years, more optimally 7 generations or more. In terms of thinking about what the forests could generate and what their value is. For example: biodiversity, multiple uses of the forest and its products.
- Research. Call for GPI analysis of Canada’s forests. There is no national knowledge. We also need to research examples of best forestry practices in Canada and world wide
- Tax shift to favour selective cutting. Highest levels of certification would favour social and environmental value. Favour smaller stakeholders vs. larger. Restoration of forests. Development of near markets. Stumpage rates should be different province to province. Diversify markets, internally and externally. Create higher value-added products and non-fiber products (mushrooms, bark, acorns, nuts).
**NAFTA means we can’t do a lot of this stuff, but it’s still a good idea and we should still try.**
- Work on aligning levels of government. Statement of national principal/value that the provinces can work to.
- Focus effort on achieving a balance with industry and workers. Think about what this industry means to us and value both the environment and the humans who are involved in the industry; work towards the benefits of both.