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How the NDP Found its Green Mojo

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The NDP has always had strong environmental credentials, but in the past decade it has sat back and let other parties lead the charge. Although Jack Layton was a committed environmentalist, it often felt that environmental issues took a back seat to health care, education, and pensions during his leadership, and it was painful to watch the NDP oppose carbon taxes in BC and federally. As a result, people like me sometimes voted for the Green Party. But that’s changing.

The BC NDP now supports the carbon tax, and, more importantly, promises to use some of the proceeds to improve public transit. They’ve also strongly opposed the Enbridge pipeline to Kitimat, arguing not only against the environmental costs but the economic risks of the project to BC.

Federally, Thomas Mulcair has started pushing sustainable development in a big way, arguing that polluting industries need to internalize the costs of dumping pollution into the air, water, and land, including the oil sands. The ‘polluter pays’ principle. He’s also making an economic argument for protecting the environment.

I think it’s a smart strategy. Up until now, the debate has always pitted the environment against the economy. And when push comes to shove, the economy always wins. However, Mulcair is arguing that our zeal to export raw resources is harming other sectors of the economy, like manufacturing – the so called Dutch Disease. By framing sustainable development as an economic issue instead of a environmental one, Mulcair is creating a sharp contrast to the Conservative budget, which focuses on destroying the environment for economic gain.

And it looks like the Conservatives are scared. The last 3 polls have all shown the NDP in the lead, but the economy is the Conservative trump card. If Mulcair can convince Canadians that the Conservative’s approach to the environment is in fact harming the economy outside of the oil patch, the NDP lead will continue to grow. This interview with Mulcair explains his ideas in his own words. It’s worth watching, and I’d embed the video but CTV’s video player sucks.
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