Now is not the time for incrementalism says Green Party of Canada

December 05, 2019

OTTAWA — Reacting to the Speech from the Throne, the Green Party of Canada expressed cautious optimism but disappointment in the lack of specifics and commitment in key policy areas.

“There are no surprises here,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “It’s very much what we expected from this minority Liberal government. We’re disappointed by the lack of specifics and timelines in many areas. While the Green Party applauds the government for acknowledging the call by Canadians to address issues like climate change, health care, housing affordability and Indigenous rights, we are disappointed in the lack of urgency demonstrated in the absence of details.”

“I was pleased to see a commitment to make reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a core priority and a pledge to introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within in the first year. However, there was a lack of specifics and timelines regarding the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and the calls to justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We would like to see more clarity on this.”

Green Party Parliamentary Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) also noted that in contrast to 2015, this Speech from the Throne contains far less detail. “I don’t understand how the government can say that ‘the defining challenge of our time is climate change’ and still fail to specify a clear target for us to achieve net zero by 2050,” said Ms. May. “This is a failure to commit to a target that is specifically grounded in science. Our greenhouse gas emissions must be at least 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, otherwise we risk out of control global warming that will result in the end of life as we know it on this planet. We can only hope that Mr. Trudeau is going to make a surprise appearance at COP25 next week to make a significant announcement on this.”

“I applaud the Liberals’ initiatives to make energy efficient homes more affordable, facilitate purchases of zero-emission vehicles and introduce measures to build clean, efficient and affordable communities. But if we do not implement measures to achieve the necessary targets to keep the global average temperature to 1.5 degrees celsius now, it will all be too late. Until we see targets implemented that will get us to where we need to be, we cannot in good faith vote in confidence for this government.”

Paul Manly, Green Party MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, welcomed the government’s commitment to preserve Canada’s natural legacy by protecting 25 per cent of Canada’s terrestrial and marine areas by 2025. However he voiced concerns about a lack of specifics on other issues.

“Tax cuts are not going to help the countless Canadians who are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to avoid homelessness,” said Mr. Manly. “I’m happy to see increased mental health services, more family doctors and that the Government recognizes the opioid crisis. Healthy communities and genuine prosperity require committed action to alleviate the housing, mental health and opioid crises that are devastating our towns and cities from coast to coast to coast. Canadians are fundamentally caring people, and they are looking to the government for leadership on these issues.”

The Green Party was the first to call for the decriminalization of all drugs to address the opioid crisis and yet the speech contains no specifics in this regard.

While the Green Party welcomes the government’s intention to crack down on gun crimes and make a concerted effort to address gender-based violence in Canada, there is concern that the commitment to Pharmacare is missing the word ‘universal’. In the final report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, Dr. Eric Hoskins stressed the need for all Canadians to benefit from universal, single-payer, public Pharmacare. The exclusion of the word ‘universal’ suggests that Canada will remain with an unfair system governed by class divisions.

“I’m encouraged that the Throne Speech opens the door to support for clinic 554 in New Brunswick,” said Jenica Atwin (MP, Fredericton). “It commits to ensuring primary care providers for all Canadians and Dr. Edgar is a primary care provider to many New Brunswickers. Therefore, I’m optimistic that this government will ensure that clinic 554 will remain open. I’m also pleased to note that the government has committed to taking greater steps to address gender-based violence in Canada, building on the Gender-Based Violence Strategy and working with partners to develop a National Action Plan.

“While we are not satisfied with everything included here, we do acknowledge and applaud the government’s willingness to collaborate on the challenges that we face as a country, so that we can do what needs to be done,” concluded Ms. Roberts.

# # #

For more information, or to arrange an interview contact:

Rosie Emery
Press Secretary
[email protected]