Canadian federal elections: is it a goodbye to government’s anti-environmental policies?

I conservatori canadesi, promotori di politiche giudicate catastrofiche per l’ambiente, potrebbero perdere il potere per la prima volta dal 2006.

After having governed for 10 years continuously, Canada’s conservatives led by Stephen Harper are likely to lose next federal elections, to be held on 19 October. Latest polls, just a few days to go before the election, indicate that the Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau is now within reach of an electoral win, thanks to its local environmental and climate policies.


Harper prime minister Canada
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper could lose next federal elections, on 19 October ©Bruce Bennett/Getty Images


Over the past few years, in fact, Canada has shown poor attention to environmental issues: “At international level, Canada is currently isolated,” said Karel Mayrand, environmental expert at the David Suzuki Foundation, to the news agency AFP. “The country is missing the transition to sustainability. In a decade, we took many steps backwards. The government allowed the elimination of several regulations, such as that for the protection of rivers and lakes”. Stéphane Dion, former Liberal Minister for the Environment added that “The result is the international community now considering Canada to be like a cancer in the fight against climate change”.


Effectively, since they started governing in 2006, the conservatives led by Harper have made a series of decisions that turned out to be ecologically disastrous. In 2011, for instance, the country withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol, considering its goals to be non-realistic. Moreover, according to the French news agency, over time the country has eliminated numerous job positions of scientists committed to environmental issues. “Harper does not believe in explanations science provides on climate change, it therefore doesn’t feel the necessity to act,” said Thomas Mulcair, leader of the left-wing New Democratic Party.


Proteste sabbie bituminose
Demonstration against extraction from oil sands, considered to be extremely harmful for the environment ©Scott Olson


Conservatives’ 3 mandates coincided with Canada’s great effort in exploiting oil deriving from oil sands, considered by environmental NGOs as the most polluting energy source. Extraction industry, mainly in the province of Alberta, is responsible for 73% of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions registered in the country over the past 25 years.


Since 1990, Canada has been increasing its emissions: according to Greenpeace, groups exploiting oils sands alone are going to generate emissions equal to a country with 10 million inhabitants, such as Belgium, by 2020.


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