While each Canadian political party may consider themselves progressive in the national election campaign, thousands of Canadians are demanding a more radical shift to a more sustainable economy.
The Leap Manifesto calls for a transition in Canadian policy that is more open minded than anything the political parties propose. Written by Naomi Klein and backed by Canadians such as David Suzuki, Tegan and Sara, Neil Young, Michael Ondaatje, and a variety of organizations (including The Starfish Canada), the manifesto declares the need to change the way Canada makes economic decisions.
But is abandoning fossil fuels in favour of more renewable energy, creating racial and gender equality as well as innovative jobs, and handing control of new energy systems onto the hands of communities really that radical? Is making the transition to an economy fundamentally designed to “[care] for one another and for the planet” a change that can be made right now?
The manifesto declares that a transition in policies must begin by respecting indigenous communities. Indigenous people demonstrate environmental stewardship through their traditional ecological knowledge -- the foundation of their communities for generations. There must be policies in place to respect the intrinsic rights and title of indigenous people; the manifesto calls on the full application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to develop a healthy relationship between all Canadians.
The manifesto aims to have as many signatories by the time the next Canadian federal government is elected, putting stress on the party to address these issues and respond with great change. Fundamental social and economic priorities must shift towards a political system centered on the environment.
While the Manifesto states that Canada is “facing the deepest crisis in recent memory” it does present an economically viable plan of action. But the plan cannot move forward unless investment in green infrastructure (transit, renewable energy, and high-speed rail) as well as social infrastructure (education, child, and healthcare) are made areas of focus by 2050.
It is clear that it is time for a transformation in Canadian policy, and time for Canadians to voice the urgency in respecting our environment and each other. It is not a question of whether Canada has the means to shift to a green economy, but rather how long Canada will sustain it’s ignorance about climate change. Now is our opportunity to “Leap” and reform Canada into the diverse vision that Canadians have for our country.