Ottawa/Queen's Park



Chris Stephen

Take a moment to dream about a new way of doing things … a new way of being in the world, if you like.

A lot of people say we can’t afford to switch from fossil fuels to renewables, that it will wreck the economy. I say we can’t afford not to. Climate change is already costing us $2 billion a year – and that’s only the loss of property due to flood and fire. The real costs to Canada include reductions in biodiversity, disrupted agriculture, scarcer water supplies, crumbling infrastructure, reduced fishing, accommodating more climate refugees. And those are much higher. Worldwide, the World Bank says climate change already costs over $500 billion a year.

The other great challenge we must address is economic inequality. I reject the idea that it’s just a matter of ‘affordability’ as the Conservatives and Liberals and mainstream media have dubbed it. When 10% of Canadians own more than half the nation’s wealth, and CEOs make 200 times what they pay their average employee, and nearly half of Canadians are $200 (or less) away from financial ruin, the problem is much deeper. The top 1% of Canadians see their incomes rise by nearly 9% a year as the incomes of the rest of us stagnate. In October this year the Sun Times reported that one in five families in Grey Bruce don’t have enough money for proper food. Economic inequality is now systemic.

For me, the way to think about the two big challenges facing us – inequality and the climate crisis – is not to think of them as separate. Rather, let’s think of them as two sides of the same coin. We can only halt greenhouse gas emissions by radically shifting our economy off fossil fuels and onto renewable sources of energy. This will be difficult. The major oil companies knew about global warming in the 1980s, but neither they nor successive governments did much about it. This tells me It will require a massive intervention by a truly progressive government determined to put resources to the problem.

Rather than seeing the solution to the climate crisis being a drain on the economy, I urge you to see it as the best opportunity to gain a more equitable society. Old jobs will disappear, but new jobs will be created in the shift to a renewable economy. The Global Commission on Adaptation estimates a $2 trillion investment in mitigating the effects of climate change will yield $7 trillion in benefits.

The NDP will shift the tax burden from the average Canadian family to the wealthy and to corporations – where it used to be back in the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of capitalism in 1950s and 1960s. We can raise $70 billion over 10 years with a small, 1% wealth tax on the assets of those earning over $20 million a year.

We can raise more by closing tax loopholes. Revenue Canada reports that some $10 billion in assessed corporate taxes are owed to Canadians. We can raise more by shutting down tax havens. Another $3 billion in taxes owed are MIA, stashed in overseas tax shelters.

With this money, an NDP government will make life more equitable with professional, affordable child care and national pharmacare and dental care programs.

We would have a chance to redefine our manufacturing sector with made-in-Canada electric vehicles. We can help workers retrain for a green economy. We can create some 300,000 new jobs. We can stimulate the home renovation industry by encouraging retrofits to make every building in the country energy-neutral by 2050. We can learn to build energy efficient, affordable housing to relieve the housing crunch.

We know how to make an equitable society – we’ve been studying it for decades and putting that study into practice in the provinces. Our health care system was pioneered by Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan and pushed into legislation by the federal NDP in a minority Liberal government led by Lester Pearson. The NDP backed indexed pensions during another minority Liberal government under Pierre Trudeau.

The NDP is rising in the polls, thanks largely to Jagmeet Singh’s positive and clear-headed campaigning. But also, I hope, because people are learning about our platform and seeing it’s the best choice for tackling both the climate crisis and economic inequality.

For the full plan, go to

Chris Stephen, NDP Candidate for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound

David McLaren, NDP Candidate in 2015


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