Photo: New Canadians, you don't need to choose: Vote for the economy and the environment

A healthy environment underpins a vibrant, sustainable economy (Credit: Oliver Mallich via Flickr).

By Winnie Hwo, Climate change campaigner

Canada is a nation of immigrants. As a result, it comes as no surprise that political parties during this election are tailoring their messages and platforms to win votes from immigrants.

In greater Vancouver, for example, the 400,000-plus Chinese Canadians are being analysed, sweet-talked and courted for their precious votes. And the most common sales pitch focuses on the economy. Just last week, a Chinese radio commentator blasted the audience of his morning show with this assertion: Chinese Canadian voters will only vote for the economy, because the economy and environment are mutually exclusive.


I am Chinese Canadian and I will be thinking about the environment when I cast my ballot. That doesn't mean I won't be taking the economy into consideration, but I have never voted only for the economy. And, I know I'm not alone because there are many like me in Canada's diverse Chinese "communities" who believe voting for the environment also means voting for the economy. The environment and economy are not mutually exclusive — they are completely interdependent.

Clean air, clean water, limits on fossil fuel emissions: these are the very basis of a strong economy — one that our children can inherit. And, equally, a strong economy generates the prosperity to pay for the education and infrastructure we need to keep our air and water clean and limit the dangerous impacts of climate change.

A Chinese Canadian friend of mine who runs a produce chain reminded me recently that because of record freezing temperatures, linked to climate change, in California and Mexico, fresh vegetable crops were badly damaged. For her, no produce means no business. My friend knows firsthand that only a healthy environment underpins a vibrant, sustainable economy.

There is now a clear scientific consensus that a rise of more than 2°C of average global temperatures above pre-industrial levels could trigger dangerous climate change. What that means for Canadians, Chinese or not, is that climate change is real and we have to help stop it.

Voting for the environment also means voting for the economy. Many immigrants to Canada know that investing in clean and renewable energy will translate into job creation and good business.

My family moved to Canada 30 years ago from Hong Kong, and like most other immigrants we came in search of fresh air and freedom. Many more have come to Canada to raise their families because they believe Canada provides a healthy environment for their children. Not surprisingly, this sentiment is shared by most Canadians.

Canadian immigrants are not single-issue voters. We know, like the rest of Canadians, that the economy and the environment are both critical to achieving a healthy, balanced and prosperous life in the country we call home.

April 27, 2011

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Feb 09, 2016
7:31 PM

I enjoyed reading this post, particularly the last two paragraphs…about Canada, the environment, freedom, etc. Unfortunately, I fear we have more to worry about as I read about what is happening in Germany, U.K., Sweden, etc. Oh Canada…I fear it could become a place Very different than what you and your other commenters describe. Will it continue to be the place we once knew, and did not fear to raise a family…

May 03, 2011
8:35 AM

Why is it that our country is unable to vote in a federal government that understands, as you stated, that the environment and the economy at interdependant? Is it because politicians cannot think beyond their 4 year term so that don’t have to worry about the impacts of climate change? Is it because oil and mineral lobies have too much sway in our government?

Apr 27, 2011
1:49 PM

I agree. My parents came to Canada about 30 years ago too for the education system, environment and economic opportunities. They were the ones who taught me how to take care of the planet and had planted vegetable gardens all their lives. They would like to continue to do this and have healthy local foods to eat and be self-reliant. I’d like to continue where they left off for myself. Unfortunately, we don’t have strong enough candidates for any of our political parties. Youth campaigns seem to target voting the Cons out but don’t suggest which party would best replace them.

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