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Chapter 4

ENV250Y5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Environmental Policy, Keystone Pipeline, Tom Mulcair

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Andrea Olive

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Ch 4
Canada was once considered a leader in environmental policy, as chapter 11 will
discuss. First-wave environmentalism created national parks across the country and
turned much needed attention to the reality of finite resources and the wise use of
Canada’s nature. During the second and into the third wave of environmentalism,
Canada was a trailblazer in environmental law and took a progressive stance on
environmental matters (wood, tanner, and Richardson 2010). However, during and
after the third wave of environmentalism, Canada increasingly struggled to
implement its ambitious environmental policies, particularly sustainable
development. The third wave was washed ashore by neoliberal values that favoured
the economy over the environment. Little action for climate change occurred in the
third wave of environmentalism. Consequently, some scholars label Canada an
environmental laggard parson , wood, tanner and Richardson . We
struggle to implement the policy we have, and we fail to innovate when creating
new policy.
The federal election of 2015 saw the liberal party, led by Justin trudeau, and the
NDP, led by tom mulcair, vying with Stephen harper’s conservatives for leadership
of the country. Similar to the conservatives, the liberals have a primary focus on the
economy and creating jobs and prosperity for Canadians. Trudeau supports the
keystone XL pipeline that will see further exploitation of the oil sands in Alberta and
the subsequent continual rise in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. The liberals do
not support the northern gateway pipeline, however, and have pledged to pursue a
national carbon-pricing plan with the provinces. Nevertheless, the liberal party
platform on energy and the environment is anthropocentric in that is supports
projects that offer responsible and sustainable ways of getting our resources to
market-while at the same time respecting indigenous rights, our natural
environment and earning the trust of local communities liberal party of Canada
2015). Also, based on past liberal governments, it is likely that environmental policy
under liberal party leadership will be remarkably similar to that experienced under
conservative party leadership. Arguably, the liberal party base (its core of loyal
supporters) is more supportive of environmental action than is the conservative
party base. Liberals would advocate oil and gas regulation and freedom of speech
for government scientists, for example.
The NDP has an even more ambitious environmental platform, which includes
moving away from fossil-fuel dependence, establishing binding targets to cut
greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthening laws to protect biodiversity, water
quality, and food security, still, its environmental plan rejects the claim of a
fundamental contradiction between enviroenmtnal health and economic growth
(NDP 2013).
Fourth-wave environmentalism will be discussed in chapter 12. Once we discuss
policy around energy, pollution, land, and wildlife, we will have a better sense of
why a fourth wave might be needed and what challenges it will face. To some extent,
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