VANCOUVER — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has unveiled his party’s environmental platform, saying it would be vital to a strong Canadian economy though some groups said his policies don’t go far enough.
Trudeau said phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and making investments in clean technologies would be among the Liberals’ top strategies if he unseats Prime Minister Stephen Harper in October.
“The only way to build a strong economy is to protect the environment,” he said Monday. “The old saw of picking one or the other, which Mr. Harper seems to believe, no longer works,” he told reporters while standing before a backdrop of the ocean and massive ships at Jericho Beach.
He said formalizing a moratorium on tanker traffic in northern British Columbia would protect marine coastal areas and provide benefits for international trade.
Trudeau said he would work with the provinces to map out a plan to reduce Canada’s collective carbon footprint within 90 days of taking office.
He said he would also invite premiers across the country to join him at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of this year and put “teeth” back into the federal environmental review process.
He said increasing consultation on projects such as the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would increase tanker traffic in Vancouver’s harbour, would be part of the revamped measures.
Groups including ForestEthics Advocacy called some of Trudeau’s proposals a “good first step,” but argued the environmental review process needs to be beefed up even further.
The group lauded a tanker ban as the “final nail in the coffin” for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, which would see Alberta crude flow westward to Kitimat, B.C.
“The Liberal party platform should be clear on whether their review of upstream greenhouse emissions would include the proposed Kinder Morgan and Energy East pipelines,” said Karen Mahon, director for ForestEthics.
Greenpeace Canada called the announcement a disappointment that was “too weak, vague.”
But the group joined the Pembina Institute in welcoming commitments to including upstream carbon emissions in amendments to the environmental review process. It also echoed ForestEthics’ approval for formalizing the moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s north coast.
Trudeau said his government would reopen the Kitsilano Coast Guard station next to English Bay, a promise that NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also made in April after a vessel dumped 2,700 litres of bunker fuel into the bay.
The Conservative party criticized Trudeau’s platform, saying he “does not understand” the implications of his policies.
Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford and Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said the carbon pricing scheme will “increase the costs of everything including gas, groceries, electricity.”
The New Democrats said the announcement contained “few details” but borrowed plenty of policies from its own platform.
Trudeau also said the Liberals would increase the amount of protected marine and coastal areas to five per cent by 2017, and 10 per cent by 2020.
He also promised that his government would cancel admission fees at national parks in 2017 to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary.
Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press