Green Party leader Elizabeth May unveiled on Wednesday a detailed plan to help Canadian fossil fuel workers move to jobs in the renewable energy sector.
“Canada has not done well in transitioning workers in the past,” May said in a press statement. “We must ensure a just and fair transition for Canadian workers in the fossil fuel industry.”
Citing recommendations by the federal task force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities, the Green Party plan includes setting up transition centres, a pension program, and “funding for workers to retrain and stay in the labour markets.“
WATCH: Green Party MP explains how they’ll transition fossil fuel workers to clean economy
In the statement, May pointed to fears held among many employees in the fossil fuel sector.
“They are concerned about their families and communities, the stability of their future livelihoods and identity,“ May said. “We will listen to and respect their concerns. Workers are key to making a just transition work for our economy, and for their communities.“
May also spoke at a press conference on Wednesday in Vancouver flanked by Green MP Paul Manly, and other candidates running for the party in B.C. in the upcoming federal election. Climate change is expected to be a crucial campaign issue. Earlier this year, a government study entitled Canada’s Changing Climate Report warned that Canada is warming at two times the global rate, on average.
The announcement comes as popularity for the Greens, both provincially and federally, is at an all-time high, making the party that once operated from the fringes a serious contender.
In April, the Green Party became the official opposition in P.E.I., a first in Canada. The following month, the party hit another milestone when Paul Manly won the federal byelection in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
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A number of recent national polls have put the percentage of Green support in the double digits.
“The Green Party today, in my view, is a greater threat to the Liberals getting re-elected than the New Democrats are,” David Coletto, CEO of polling firm Abacus Data, told Global News in June.
May, who became leader of the Greens in 2006, has long expressed disappointment toward the federal government’s climate change policies, both those of the previous Conservatives and the current Liberals.
“We’re in a climate emergency. Everything is changed,” May told Maclean’s last month. “And yet, every day in Ottawa, we don’t act as if we’re taking it seriously. We haven’t adjusted our emission-reduction targets from the one left behind from Stephen Harper’s administration.”
WATCH BELOW: Are the Greens a greater threat to Trudeau Liberals re-election than the NDP?
Earlier this year, the Greens unveiled the party’s green climate action plan dubbed “Mission: Possible,” which includes some components of its election platform, which has yet to be released in full. The plan for fossil fuel workers expands on part of that climate action document.
The party describes the plan as Canada’s answer to the Green New Deal put forward by members of the Democratic Party in the U.S.
The plan’s 20 points include ending all imports of foreign oil, declaring a climate emergency, banning fracking, and cancelling the purchase of F35s in favour of more water bombers to tackle forest fires.
As for the rest of the federal parties, each has begun to unveil its own proposals to tackle climate change. The Liberals continue to make the case for the policies they have already implemented.
During his trip last to Iqaluit, Nunavut last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced two marine protected areas amid melting sea and other threats to local animal species.
“(The) actions that we’ve taken as a government consistently throughout these four years demonstrate not just concrete deliverables for people in the North, but indeed demonstrate that at the heart of everything the government of Canada can and must do in the North needs to be respect and partnership with the Inuit,” Trudeau said.
The month before, the Liberals and Conservatives sparred over a Liberal proposal to implement a “clean-fuel standard,” which Conservative leader Andrew Scheer decried as a “secret fuel tax” that would increase gas prices.
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Scheer’s Conservatives revealed their own climate change plan in June. It touted support for green technology and innovation “not taxes.” That 60-page plan has been criticized for lacking details as to how a Conservative government would reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In May, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh put forward a motion in the House of Commons that aimed, among other things, to cut Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by roughly half over the next 10 years. The motion also urged Trudeau to declare a climate emergency and halt the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
As part of its approach on climate change, the NDP has also promised to create 300,000 “good” green jobs if elected through a $15-billion investment into sectors such as transportation and renewable energy. An assessment of this pledge by CBC News found that such a promise would be possible.
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