Elections are an active time for advocates, scientists or anyone concerned about the degradation of our environment and stopping climate change.
It’s when they can hold politicians’ toes to the fire on issues surrounding the environment. In the end, it’s about making sure the environment is included as part of the discussion, and not set aside as too controversial.
Issues like climate change affect us all, they’re not tied to any ideology. All parties should have a plank in their platform for how they are going to deal with these pressing issues — it’s a necessary part of budgeting and planning for the future.
That makes the announcement by Elections Canada warning environmental groups that ads about climate change could be considered partisan advertising all the more confusing.
While the Liberals, Green Party, NDP and Conservatives are all, to some extent, addressing environmental issues in their platforms, Maxime Bernier, leader of the new People’s Party or Canada, has expressed doubts about the legitimacy of climate change.
According to Elections Canada, that one dissenting voice means that any group promoting climate change as an issue could be considered partisan.
So, if one of the parties should adopt a stance that public schools should be dropped in favour of an entirely private school system, does that mean anyone that wants to raise education as an election issue is being partisan? It’s the same for health care. If one party says the government should get out of the health care business, does that mean it’s now a partisan issue? Elections Canada has put a chill on advocates being able to promote issues and encourage all candidates and parties to take a stand.
We need rules around election advertising. It’s necessary to keep the playing field level, to put the brakes on U.S.-style attack ads and generally keep politicians and third parties honest about who is supporting whom.
But in with that, there needs to be a recognition that some issues aren’t subject to partisan politics. Political ideologies don’t change the fact that climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed.