The team of scholars behind Vote Compass gave Canada's five political parties the opportunity to take part in the process to ensure the parties' policies lined up with the way Vote Compass interprets respondents' answers.

All five parties had the chance to answer the Vote Compass questionnaire for themselves, and were given the opportunity to challenge the assessments before the "final codes" went in.

Here are the party positions on three questions about the environment in the Vote Compass questionnaire, and what was behind those answers. Over the next two weeks, CBC News will look at each of the 10 Vote Compass issue areas.

1) The environmental damage caused by the Alberta oil sands industry is exaggerated

  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • Don't know

New Democratic Party — Strongly disagree

We will meet Canada’s G-20 commitment to cut subsidies to non-renewable energy and end the federal bias towards non-renewable energy production; We will reallocate these subsidies to encourage cleaner energy production.

[...]

We will develop cumulative impact assessments and environmental regulations to protect fishery and trans-boundary waters, and science-based monitoring and enforcement for the oil sand sector. [p. 13]   Source:Giving Your Family a Break: Practical First Steps (April 2011)   [A] peer-reviewed report on the oil sands emissions just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that oil sands operations are emitting today, and have been emitting for decades, levels of contaminants, putting the Athabasca watershed and its fisheries at serious risk. They found levels of airborne toxins equal to a major oil spill each year.

The finding raises serious questions about the government's long-term failure to regulate the impacts of this industry. (Linda Duncan)

Source: Oil Sands Contamination (December 10, 2009)

Green Party — Strongly disagree

It is not possible to reduce greenhouse gases while subsidizing the planet's most carbon-intensive oil -- crude from the Athabasca tar sands.

[p. 45]

Source: Vision Green 2010: Preserving and Restoring The Environment (January 2010)

Bloc Québécois — Strongly disagree

Text not available in English

Tous le reconnaissent, la lutte contre les dérèglements climatiques passe invariablement par une modification de notre rapport avec l’énergie, notamment à l’égard des énergies fossiles. Or, comme le Canada tient une partie de sa richesse des très polluants sables bitumineux, il hésite à suivre le mouvement des pays qui entrent résolument dans le 21e siècle. [...]   Certes, les conséquences environnementales de l'exploitation des sables bitumineux sont nombreuses et tangibles.  

Source: Au tour du Québec : budget fédéral 2011 (26 novembre 2011)

Conservative Party  — Strongly agree

Mr. Kent said he sees part of his new job as setting the record straight on the oil sands – a sector he says has gotten a "bad rap."   "[It’s] communicating, trying to encourage any discussion with skeptics, if not cynics, that let’s deal with facts," he said of his new post.   "Oil-sands production accounts, I think, for 5 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse-gas emissions. It’s less than one-tenth of 1 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions and barely 1 per cent of the equivalent greenhouse-gas emissions by American coal-fired power generators," he said. "When you look at relevant measurements, it is not nearly the product that has been demonized."   

Source: Peter Kent’s green agenda: Clean up oil sands’ dirty reputation (January 6, 2011)

Liberal Party — Somewhat disagree

Oil sands development must become more sustainable as this major resource continues to contribute to Canada’s prosperity. As part of the Canadian Clean Energy Partnership, a Liberal government will work to: Accelerate development and deployment of technologies that will reduce all environmental impacts, including the carbon footprint, of oil sands development, with a goal of eliminating the 15 percent differential compared to conventional oil; Increase the rigour with which the federal government exercises its regulatory responsibilities relevant to oil sands development; and Improve the knowledge base necessary for responsible regulation by increasing investment in science and monitoring relevant to oil sands development.   The basic objective of these measures, of course, is cleaner oil sands development, and "more orderly development", as former Alberta Premier, Peter Lougheed has advocated. [p. 45]  

SourceYour Family. Your Future. Your Canada. (April 2011)  

The oil sands are an integral part of the future of Canada. There is a simple truth about the oil sands, a truth more Canadians need to understand.   Our country has less than 0.5 percent of the world’s population. And yet, we have 15 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. And 97 percent of those reserves are found in Alberta’s oil sands. And those reserves are in a province and a country of stability, democracy and respect for the private sector. No other oil nation can match that.   It’s possible to both stand up for the oil sands and work with them to become greener. Companies in the oil sands are calling for a price on carbon themselves.  Companies operating in the oil sands get it – they get that they’re leaving behind a legacy for our children and the environmental impact of their projects can’t be ignored.   We need sustainable oil sands development – in human, environmental and economic terms, with flourishing communities in a flourishing green industry.    

Source: Speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce (February 27, 2009)

2) Canada should adopt a carbon tax

  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • Don't know

New Democratic Party — Somewhat disagree

We will put a price on carbon through a cap-and-trade system, which will establish hard emissions limits for Canada’s biggest polluters to ensure companies pay their environmental bills and to create an incentive for emissions reductions. [p. 12]  

Source:Giving Your Family a Break: Practical First Steps (April 2011)  

New Democrat Leader Jack Layton blasted the carbon tax schemes of both B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and Stéphane Dion today, calling them "unfair for ordinary working families." He also accused the Harper government of flip-flopping on the British Columbia carbon tax.   "Campbell slapped on his carbon tax and hurt families here in B.C. Bay Street Harper let it happen. He says he’s against it now, but his Bay Street Ministers sing a different tune. They said that carbon tax was just fine," added Layton.   "We’ve got a better climate change plan," said the New Democrat leader, pointing out that his party’s plan "targets the big polluters" and "creates incentives to radically reduce carbon production."  

Source: Carbon tax will hurt families: Layton  (September 25, 2008)

Green Party —Strongly agree

Green Party MPs will [...] Institute a full range of "polluter pays" taxes, including a carbon tax designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels by making them more expensive to produce and burn. All these taxes will be revenue neutral. The revenues generated will be offset by reduced taxes on personal income, payroll and on green products and technologies. The new taxes will also be non-regressive (e.g., the carbon tax will include a rebate program for low-income Canadians and for Canadians living in rural areas); Phase-in carbon taxes to allow businesses and individuals time to make adjustments. In order to maintain a level playing field for Canadian businesses with respect to foreign competitors, carbon-based tariffs will be introduced against countries that apply no carbon tax (or other equivalent mechanism to curb GHG emissions) or apply a lower rate of carbon tax than Canada [pp. 11-12].  

Source: Vision Green 2010: Fair taxes -- fiscal reform (January 2010)

Bloc Québécois —Somewhat agree

Text not available in English

En matière de lutte contre les émissions de gaz à effet de serre, comme principal moyen d’intervention, le Bloc Québécois préconise la création d’un marché de permis échangeables géré au moyen d’une bourse du carbone à Montréal. Une bourse du carbone est un puissant incitatif financier à réduire les émissions de gaz à effet de serre puisqu’elle permet de monnayer les efforts consentis. L’utilisation des mécanismes du marché pour fixer le coût des émissions de carbone comporte plusieurs avantages. Premièrement, ceux qui font un effort sérieux peuvent en retirer un bénéfice réel, ce qui constitue un incitatif à l’action. Ensuite, dans un marché d’échange, contrairement à une taxe que tous paient et dont le montant est fixe, plus l’effort à faire est grand, plus les prix sont élevés. Mais ce système ne peut fonctionner qu’avec l’imposition d’un plafond d’émissions rigide. Ainsi, même s’il existait une bourse du carbone à Montréal, celle-ci n’offrirait aux entreprises tous ses avantages que lorsque des cibles absolues de réduction seraient déterminées.

Source : Proposition principale (fevrier 2011)

Conservative Party  — Strongly disagree

"But I think what we don't need right now when we do face rising gasoline taxes and rising taxes on energy products are governments to come and specifically impose carbon taxes on our economy," Harper told reporters in Beamsville, Ont.   "We think that is a foolish and unnecessary policy that is being proposed by our opposition."   "If what you really want is to get money for the government and claim that you're trying to reduce emissions, then you impose carbon taxes. But that's not a position this government is going to take."  

Source: Carbon tax 'foolish and unnecessary': PM (May 21, 2008)

Liberal Party — Strongly disagree

A Liberal government will establish a cap-and-trade system – a mechanism that sets a ceiling on the total amount of permissible greenhouse gas emissions by large industrial facilities, and then auctions off emission permits to companies who can trade them amongst themselves to remain compliant under the law. [p. 46]  

Source:Your Family. Your Future. Your Canada. (April 2011)  

A Liberal government will fight for ambitious targets to reduce carbon pollution.  We would set 1990 as our base year, not 2006, so we don’t end up punishing provinces that have already taken the lead, like Quebec and Manitoba.   We will quickly put in place a cap-and-trade system. Ideally, such a system would become global. It must be verifiable. It must be binding. And it must lead to absolute reductions in the amount of carbon pollution we spew into the atmosphere.   This cap-and-trade system will put a price on carbon. You pollute, you pay. You go green and clean, you get paid—or receive credits.  

Source: Speech on Liberal environment, climate change and clean energy jobs plan (November 26, 2009)

3) Environmental regulation should be stricter, even if it leads to consumers having to pay higher prices

  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • Don't know

New Democratic Party — Neither agree nor disagree

Action on the environment is about long-run economic sustainability. Inaction is the costliest option. Redistribution of the costs and benefits of development will naturally happen under environmental action and should take place in accordance with progressive principles, ensuring the burden of change is not shifted to those who can least afford it.  

Source: Correspondence (March 7, 2011)

Green Party — Strongly agree

To set the right prices, we have to change to a "true" or "full-cost" accounting method that incorporates economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits in the national accounts. Using this method, products and services are taxed, and thus priced, according to the positive or negative impacts caused throughout their lifecycle. We have already done this with tobacco products. Such taxes help consumers make more rational choices.

[p. 11]

Source: Vision Green 2010: Fair taxes -- fiscal reform (January 2010)

Bloc Québécois — Neither agree nor disagree

Text not available in English

Le Bloc Québécois considère que la protection de l’environnement et le développement économique vont de pair, qu’il est nécessaire et avantageux de consolider ces deux aspects et qu’il est possible de mettre de l’avant des politique économiques conséquentes. De plus, le Bloc Québécois estime que la dépendance aux énergies non renouvelables entraînera inévitablement une augmentation des prix pour les consommateurs et consommatrices, autant en matière des coûts de transport que de l'alimentation. De plus, la dépendance au pétrole entraîne chaque année un déficit commercial pour le Québec, ce qui nuit à l'emploi et aux travailleurs et travailleuses. Conséquemment, c'est l'inaction plutôt que le virage vert qui entraînera une augmentation des prix pour les consommateurs et consommatrices.

Source : Proposition Principale (fevrier 2011)

Conservative Party  — Strongly disagree

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has defended Tory senators who voted down a climate change bill ahead of an upcoming United Nations meeting on the issue in Mexico.   Harper, in responding to a query from NDP Leader Jack Layton in question period Wednesday in Ottawa, said Conservatives have been consistent and clear in their opposition to Bill C-311, which the prime minister called "a completely irresponsible bill."   "It sets irresponsible targets, doesn't lay out any measure of achieving them other than ... by shutting down sections of the Canadian economy and throwing hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of people out of work," Harper said. "Of course, we will never support such legislation."  

Source: Killed climate change bill flawed: Harper (November 17, 2010)

Liberal Party — Neither agree nor disagree

Liberals believe that Canada does not have to choose between environmental sustainability and economic growth.  Through investments in the environment and clean energy, Canada is able to create jobs and develop cutting edge industries that will export high-tech products to growing markets such as China and India.   The Liberal Party has a comprehensive plan to create clean energy jobs. Liberals will make an historic investment in clean energy and energy efficiency, quadrupling Canada’s production of renewable energy, and creating a cap and trade system with hard caps leading to absolute reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.   This strategy, combined with a commitment to protect our air, oceans, waterways, forests and Arctic, will restore Canada’s place as an environmental leader.  

Source: Environment and Energy