Too many politicians, business leaders and media pundits are setting up a false choice between economics, human rights, and the environment. The fact is there is no need to choose. Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands continues to plead for sanity from our Canadian leadership. May stated, “The economy, the environment, and human rights are mutually interdependent. They must go hand in hand if we are to have a vibrant and healthy economy that is sustainable.”
While expanding and diversifying our trading partners is commendable, we must also consider the costs. Giving away our resources at basement prices and strings attached, with little value added, is short-sighted. May added, “We can build our economy without selling out the future of our children.”
Recent European events where citizens are opposed to necessary austerity are bringing about questions as to how democracy and a healthy economy can co-exist.
Jean-Luc Cooke, Small Business Critic for the Green Party of Canada, responded, “The Greek debt is a result of irresponsible leaders and self-centered businesses who do not want to pay for essential services. An economy where trillions of dollars run to the most profitable investments without any cost linked to undesirable consequences, such as pure speculation, human rights abuses, and disregard for aboriginal peoples and the environment, is doomed to implode.”
“Economic self-interest should be tempered with a regulatory framework including capital requirements for debt risks, a Tobin Tax for speculation, and a tax to compensate for and clean up the damage done to the environment. Canada needs to pay attention and learn from the Greek situation,” continued Cooke.
The Green Party points to the overheated oil sands and the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline as economic decision making out of step with the need to protect Canadian jobs and the environment. Exporting raw resources to Asia will have more costs than benefits for Canada, including environmental degradation of air, land and water and further disrespect to First Nations. The Green Party is alarmed that Prime Minister Harper has repeated numerous times that a pipeline will go ahead regardless of what the majority of Canadians want.
“We do not want trade at all costs, but costed trade,” concluded Cooke.