Photo: Election environmental cheat sheet

It's been a long election campaign, with all the main political parties making seemingly thousands of promises. If you're feeling confused, don't worry. We're here to help.

The David Suzuki Foundation's policy experts have reviewed the parties' environmental platforms and compared their commitments in an at-a-glance cheat sheet.

To download the full sheet, click here. To see a section-by-section breakdown, keep reading.

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Once you're ready to vote, make plans with a friend to go to the polling station on October 19. Making voting plans increases the chances that you and your voting buddy will follow through on election day. Plus, you'll have more fun!

If the images below are too small, click to see them full size.

Right to a healthy environment

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Only the NDP and Green Party have made specific commitments to recognizing our right to live in a healthy environment through law. The other parties haven't made firm commitments, but they haven't officially opposed the concept.

Climate change

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Climate change targets are tricky. All parties except the Liberals have committed to some measure of national emissions targets. The Liberal Party has said it would allow provinces to set their framework but hold them to emission reductions targets that we will work out together.

The NDP and Bloc Québécois are both in favour of a cap-and-trade system for putting a price on carbon, the Green Party is in favour of a fee-and-dividend program and the Conservative Party does not believe in putting a national price on carbon.

Pipelines

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The David Suzuki Foundation opposes expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure because current science suggests two-thirds of existing reserves must remain in the ground to prevent climate change beyond 2 C — the level at which catastrophic impacts become inevitable.

The Conservative Party is in favour of expanding fossil fuel infrastructure and supports pipeline expansion. The Green Party is opposed to all four of these proposed pipelines. The Bloc is against Energy East, but has not commented on the other projects.

The Liberal Party supports Keystone XL, opposes Northern Gateway and says it will wait until the NEB review process is over before taking a position on Energy East or Kinder Morgan.

The NDP's position is more nuanced. The party opposes both Keystone XL and Northern Gateway. For Energy East and Kinder Morgan, the party has characterized the current NEB process as fundamentally flawed and would reject any decisions coming from it. Instead, the NDP proposes to overhaul the NEB process, strengthening its powers and transparency, and thus creating a more robust decision-making process.

Transit investment

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The David Suzuki Foundation supports investment in fast and reliable transit and transportation infrastructure, as studies show that transportation is a major source of carbon pollution across the country. Relying too heavily on private vehicle ownership leads to adverse environmental and public health consequences. We also know these investments reduce costly gridlock and improve regional economies.

For the comparison, we took a look at transit funding commitments for the next four years combined, and then another look at whether the parties had longer-term plans for stable funding. The Conservative Party has pledged to continue funding from its last budget and announced a long-term plan of $1 billion a year. This funding is contingent on projects being funded through public-private partnerships.

The NDP has promised funding that rises to $1.3 billion a year by the end of its first mandate by adding funding commitments on top of what the Conservatives have promised. The NDP is also planning to increase gas tax transfers for transit in addition to a targeted transit plan. This number is part of the combined total.

The Green Party's investments focus on VIA Rail, and while the party also references investments in infrastructure, the amounts for transit are not broken out separately.

The Liberal Party has pledged $5.65 billion over the first four years of its mandate, followed by $2 billion a year for 10 years. Finally, the BQ has said it would call for $10 billion a year in transit investment with no indication of an end date to that level of investment.

Oceans

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On ocean issues, the main opposition parties are mostly in alignment, with the exception of the Bloc, which does not have specific commitments in these areas. The NDP, Liberals and Greens all support establishing marine protected areas that cover 10 per cent of Canada's oceans by 2020, tanker bans on B.C.'s north coast and restoring the protections stripped from the Fisheries Act and Navigable Waters Protection Act. The Conservative Party stripped those protections in the first place, is not in favour of a tanker ban and to date have not moved forward on marine protected areas despite repeated commitments to do so.

Other

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The Liberals, NDP and Greens all pledge to establish a science officer position to advocate for science-based decision-making. A few weeks ago, the David Suzuki Foundation asked all parties whether they would support establishing protected beluga habitat in the St. Lawrence within the first 100 days, and only the NDP, Green Party and BQ responded in support.

The Liberals and Greens both have measures to strengthen air quality and the Liberals and NDP have pledged protections for the Rouge National Urban Park.

Finally, while some parties have commitments to address clean water access in First Nations communities, none reaches the level the Foundation has advocated for based on the position of the Assembly of First Nations.

YES, I'm voting on October 19.

October 14, 2015
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/election/2015/10/election-environmental-cheat-sheet/

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