Commentary by Jagmeet Singh: For our children, we must address climate change

A commentary by the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada and MP for the B.C. riding of Burnaby South. This is the third in a series of commentaries about climate change from Canada’s main political parties; they are being published daily this week.To see the others, go to timescolonist.com/opinion.

The time for talk on climate change and economic inequality is over. It’s time to act, and it’s time to fight like our future depends on it, with a plan that doesn’t leave any family behind.

We only have to look at the faces of the millions of young people striking in an urgent call to action for fighting the climate crisis. I was proud to march alongside the thousands at the legislative building in Victoria, and I’ve reflected a lot on what many of those young people told me about the future they want to build for themselves.

The answer is the same across the country, from Saanich to Charlottetown. They want a future where our coasts are protected and every child can play outside in fresh air. It’s a future where Indigenous rights are honoured; and where a move to a sustainable economy means no one is left behind.

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Climate change threatens this vision: from floods in North Island communities to wildfires ravaging northern B.C. and the Okanagan. At the same time, more people face increasing job insecurity in an economy that isn’t working for them. No wonder they’re worried about the future. We need bold, achievable solutions that put people at the heart of our work.

For decades, Conservative and Liberal governments haven’t had the courage to do what is needed. They’ve denied climate change and protected big polluters. Justin Trudeau even spent $4.5 billion on a pipeline that will increase tanker traffic by 700 per cent, threatening jobs and tourism, and our already endangered whale population.

Actions matter. The time for those parties’ empty talk is over, because if we don’t stop climate change within the next decade, our children won’t have a future.

Elizabeth May and the Green Party have some good ideas for fighting climate change, but their plan doesn’t do enough to make sure everyday families, workers and the most vulnerable people in our society are not left behind.

If we really want to win this fight, we need everyone at the table and the NDP will not accept any plan that falls short on that front.

What is truly disturbing is Ms. May’s comment that she would consider supporting a Conservative minority government, when it is clear that Andrew Scheer wants to cut services and would allow his caucus to reopen the abortion debate. Climate justice and social justice go hand-in-hand, and we should not compromise on either.

What we’re proposing is different: as the world moves to a carbon-neutral future, Canada can be a leader. We can create good jobs and make our communities healthier and more sustainable, so life gets better for everyone.

I’m proud that Canada’s New Democrats are the party with the strongest plan to fight climate change while also tackling social inequality. Under the NDP, Canada will create at least 300,000 clean-energy jobs and families will save $900 or more per year on energy costs with efficient upgrades. We’ll protect our communities from floods and wildfires. We’ll adopt science-based greenhouse-gas emission reductions targets that are in line with stabilizing global temperatures at 1.5 degrees C — and be accountable for meeting them.

On the day of the climate march, I signed a pledge to defend the coast from the dangerous Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and announced our commitment to a $40-million Coastal Protection Fund to save wild salmon, ban single-use plastics and improve Canadian Coast Guard training.

New Democrats have always fought for our environment and for families who need good jobs. In 2006, Jack Layton spearheaded the Climate Change Accountability Act, which Stephen Harper’s Conservatives voted against. And in B.C., our provincial NDP government is reducing carbon pollution, making life more affordable and standing up for our coast.

But imagine what’s possible for B.C. with a willing partner in Ottawa. That’s why I’m asking for your support on Oct. 21 for the NDP’s New Deal for People — a plan for bold action to fight the climate crisis and a clear path to a lasting, living economy that works better for all Canadians.

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