Elizabeth May pitches Greens as holding balance of power in minority government
TORONTO -- Green Leader Elizabeth May pitched her party and its environmental and social justice-focused platform to voters Monday as one not of a new government, but as one capable of holding the balance of power responsibly.
May acknowledged the reality of the polls, which peg Green support well behind those of the Liberals and Conservatives, at her platform launch.
"I think I am the best qualified to be prime minister of Canada, I will say that out loud, but I'll also say I don't think it's very likely," she said in releasing her party's platform at Toronto's Royal York hotel, surrounded by a slate of local candidates.
"I'm running to elect as many of these wonderful candidates as is possible so that a caucus of Green MPs can assist Canadians, particularly in a minority situation."
The Greens say every policy in their platform -- from the economy to health, foreign affairs, immigration and transportation -- is viewed through the lens of the climate crisis.
"(The platform) covers a broad, broad suite of measures," May said. "Most of what people have heard us talk about so far in the campaign has been related to climate, but look at the many ways in which steps on the climate emergency have an impact on other parts of our ways of life."
The Greens propose a law requiring a 60-per-cent cut in greenhouse-gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, a steeper reduction than Canada's current 30-per-cent target. It would also seek to get to net zero emissions by 2050.
The party says it would ban hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") to extract fuels, approve no new pipelines, coal, or oil or gas drilling, and cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline. By 2030 the Greens want 100 per cent of Canada's electricity to come from renewable sources and to ban the sale of passenger vehicles with combustion engines by that year.
Along with aggressive environmental targets, the Green platform also promises universal pharmacare, eliminating post-secondary tuition, and a guaranteed livable income. The Greens say the tuition promise will be financed by redirecting money from bursaries, tuition tax credits, and administering student loans.
May said her platform will be fully costed but the numbers won't be released for another few days because the parliamentary budget office is still working on a couple of its planks.
A number of revenue sources are mentioned in the platform, such as money that would be freed up from cancelling Trans Mountain and ending fossil-fuel subsidies, taxing foreign multimedia giants such as Netflix, Facebook, Amazon and Google, and increasing the corporate tax rate from 15 to 21 per cent.
The Green platform also places a heavy emphasis on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, including a pledge to implement the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
May emphasized her pledge to make this the last federal election to use the "first past the post" system -- a promise Justin Trudeau made in 2015 and then broke.
Launching a citizens' assembly on electoral reform to make recommendations on how to "make every vote count" would "protect us from a future, dictator-style populist," May said.
"They could get 100 per cent of the power with less than 50 per cent of the popular vote," she said. "We have to change our voting system before that individual comes along. We have to inoculate democracy against a future leader for Canada that we would right now find unacceptable and appalling. I'm speaking of a hypothetical person, no one in particular."
Other promises include studying the impacts of adopting a shorter work week so there is work for more people, lowering the federally set price on legal cannabis, and increasing funding to the CBC.
--With files from Liam Casey