The Liberals, Greens, and NDP, all put forward their respective environmental visions. But even the NDP, arguably the best among them, fell far from the mark. Of course the environmental solutions of all of the Parliamentary opposition parties are stuck in the same box of the capitalist free market; the same economic system that is responsible for the environmental crisis facing us today. The Harper Tories, meanwhile, continue to follow their unabashed anti-environment, pro-corporate agenda.
Upon election in 2006 the Harper Tories immediately travelled south to pledge Canadian oil to the USA government of George W. Bush. The week of the election, in a two day meeting, Harper and Co. pledged to increase oil sands production by five times, as well as “streamline” environmental regulations for energy products. In the months that followed, fifteen federal programs to reduce green house gasses were cut. Since, several more climate change programs in the agriculture ministry have been cut as well.
The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen initially offered hope for a binding worldwide treaty on reducing greenhouse gasses. Afterwards, Canada was widely considered the single largest barrier to achieving that goal. Having abandoned the earlier Kyoto Accord targets as “socialist”, the Harper Conservatives successfully blocked another attempt at mitigating human impact on the environment.
To Harper and company, climate change and all proposals to address are no more than another dreaded socialist conspiracy. For Harper and the corporate interests he represents, the long term danger of the environmental crisis is outweighed by the immediate opportunities to extract immense profits and the expense of the planet. It is hard to see the effects of environmental catastrophe from the pool side of mansions in exclusive, sheltered communities. It’s always easy to see the bottom line.
In other words, we can’t rely on those who are wedded to the capitalist economic system to take the necessary action on the environment. What is necessary is the build up of a broad resistance to the system which allows such environmental degradation. Environmentalism as a mass movement must unite people in struggle to ensure a safe future for humanity. Dumping Harper is the first step, but we also have to dump capitalism. Only a progressive alternative to the current mode of production, the sweeping away of capitalist commodification and exploitation in favour of a commonly owned planned economy, can ensure sustainable production which also meets the needs of all people.