Friends, there is no planet B. We must stop climate change, environmental degradation, environmental racism, and the fossil fuel industry’s reckless expansion to leave a better legacy for our children. The ONDP must join those organizing for environmental justice.
Joel is the candidate who can make that happen. He has earned respect from Indigenous activists, environmentalists, energy workers and others to work for a greener future in Ontario. He has taught seminars on environmental law at Carleton University, and trained canvassers for local environmental groups like Ecology Ottawa.
As an activist for the Leap Manifesto, Joel has worked with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake who are challenging environmental racism, and energy workers who want a just transition to green jobs. He is the candidate and MPP who can bring the right folks together.
The Existential Threat of Climate Change
The world’s scientific community has spoken, and the evidence is clear: 80 percent of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if we are to meet existing global targets for emissions reductions. We can’t expand destructive and unsustainable models for energy, this is why Joel opposes the construction of new tar sands pipelines and will bring this critical perspective with him in to caucus. We must also stop the environmental racism impacting marginalized communities.
Above all, we must develop ambitious strategies to develop renewable energy, and draw on Ontario’s manufacturing base to create a cleaner, greener economy. We need to ensure that no worker or community is left behind as we shift to a sustainable future.
The Status Quo: Double-Speak on Environmental Justice
Many politicians talk about fighting climate change, but their modest efforts are failing to change Canada’s energy paradigm for the better. The Green Economy Network and others have put forward better ideas, but Canadians await serious action.
The current Ontario Government is a case in point. It has wisely phased out coal energy, and finally taken measures to address the environmental racism faced by the Grassy Narrows First Nation. But its Green Energy Act falls short of what is needed to expand renewable energy on an ambitious scale.
Moreover, in selling off two-thirds of Ontario’s stake in Hydro One, the Wynne Liberals are squandering our potential to grow renewable energy on an ambitious scale (more on that in a moment). They have also opened Ontario to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), an exploration technique proven to be destructive to ecosystems and human health.
Meanwhile, Canada lags the world in the development of renewable energy, and the growth of green jobs. In 2016, investment in renewables exceeded investment in fossil fuels; a rapid energy transition is happening worldwide driven in part by public pressure. The ONDP can and must be part of this global movement.
Building the Green Economy
We won’t address the climate crisis by asking working people to sacrifice more; families are already struggling thanks to years of stagnant wages and austerity policies. We can do it by growing those sectors of the economy that improve everyone’s quality of life while reducing emissions.
Affordable, energy efficient housing for all. State of the art public transit, made by union labour in Ontario. Ensuring access to local, healthy food. Expanding renewable energy production. These and other ideas are not only necessary to avert climate catastrophe, it will grow the economy and create hundreds of thousands of good jobs across Ontario. Joel is closely familiar with leading-edge research that suggests how this can happen.
Taking Hydro One back into public hands, as the ONDP has pledged to do, can help spearhead this transformation, while putting a stop to energy price gouging. The countries on the planet leading the development in renewable energy share one thing in common: they have strong public utilities capable of growing renewables on an ambitious scale.
Whether it’s providing seed money for projects in growing public transit or coordinating the retrofitting of housing and public buildings, the possibilities offered by returning hydro to the people are limited only by our imagination.
Joel won’t be cowed by fossil fuel lobbyists. He will work to take hydro back into public ownership, and urge these economies of scale be used to grow renewable energy, particularly for marginalized communities and displaced energy workers.
Fighting for our Right to a Healthy Environment
Joel firmly believes in everyone’s right to a healthy environment, a goal espoused in Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights since its introduction almost 25 years ago. But this legislation maintains gaping holes that don’t compel government to be proactive, and ensure access to clean water, air, and sustainable development. It must be strengthened through amendments that fill these gaps.
Indigenous land protectors are on the front lines in preventing the reckless expansion of fossil fuels, and thinking seven generations in front of us. They are the reason Canada signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and governments have been compelled to take action. Joel will support this organizing, and build bridges between Indigenous land protectors and non-Indigenous Ontarians.