Green Party platform promises to expand rail, eliminate tuition

The Green Party released its 44-page election platform in Vancouver today with high-priced promises for students, seniors and small business. But it focuses heavily on planks to tackle climate change and wean the national economy off the oilsands.

Elizabeth May wants to grow green jobs, tackle climate change and wean Canada's economy off oilsands

Elizabeth May favours a coalition government

7 years ago
Duration 3:18
Green party Leader Elizabeth May explains why she feels a coalition government would work for Canada.

The Green Party wants to wipe out university and college tuition fees, expand Canada's rail and urban transit systems and halt the use of fossil fuels by mid-century.

The party's 44-page election platform, released by party leader Elizabeth May in Vancouver today, makes big — and expensive — promises to help students, seniors and small business. It focuses heavily on planks to tackle climate change and wean the national economy off the oilsands.

Accusing the Conservative government of "serial vandalism" of Canada's public policy, May said she would work to clean up the environment, reform criminal justice and overhaul immigration and refugee practices.

May predicted a minority government after the Oct. 19 election, but said she does not want to join any formal coalition. She said the best way for Canadians to effect positive public policy change is to elect more Green MPs.

"Someone with a strong corps of Greens encourages the Liberals and New Democrats to form a coalition — I think that would be very healthy," she said. "We would like to sit in opposition in a responsible Parliament, which means our job is to hold government accountable." 

May said she would not bring down a government if it pursued key policies, from democratic reform and refugee policy to repealing anti-terror legislation.

End subsidies to fossil fuel industry

New jobs in the petroleum industry should be created by refining product here rather than shipping it raw to other countries, according to the Green plan. Its climate and energy strategy would end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $1 billion, and introduce a fee-and-dividend system that would put a price on carbon and share the returns with every Canadian over the age of 18.

May also wants to overhaul Canada's tax system by increasing the corporate tax rate back to its 2009 level of 19 per cent, eliminating credits for the wealthy and penalizing pollution and waste.

A budget overview included in the document forecasts that Green initiatives would shift spending priorities and cuts, but come to roughly the same bottom line as current Conservative projections until 2019-20. The document does not included detailed accounting for major planks.

Costing predicts $13.1 billion surplus by 2019-20

The costing projects a $1.9 billion surplus this fiscal year, which would gradually climb to a $13.1-billion surplus in four years.

The Greens would spend $6.4 billion on municipal infrastructure, implement a national pharmacare program and cover dental costs for low-income youth.

To ease the financial student burden, the Green plan would have tuition-free education by 2020, beginning with lower-income Canadians. It would also eliminate any existing or future debt above $10,000, abolish interest on student loans and boost funding for bursaries.

On the democratic and governance front, the plan would slash the budget and "excessive powers" of the Prime Minister's Office and repeal the government's anti-terror laws.

May blasted the "low cunning and cheap tricks" playing out on the campaign, and said Canadians are sick of being "conned."

"This election reminds me of a seedy sideshow, a carnie sideshow," she said. "And what we want to offer Canadians is the real deal."

Other platform planks:

  • Create federally funded $1-billion-a-year green technology commercialization grants for entrepreneurs to accelerate emerging technologies.
  • Abolish tuition fees and implement a debt-forgiveness program for student debt above $10,000.
  • Invest $600 million in 2016-17 in Via Rail, rising to $764 million by 2020; strengthen rail safety rules; re-route tracks for freight and rail away from populated areas.
  • Create a Council of Canadian Governments to bring together federal, provincial-territorial, municipal and First Nations, Mé​tis and Inuit leader to develop policy.
  • The rapid phase-out of coal-fired generation plants in Canada.
  • Housing plan with affordable, predictable home care support.
  • A guaranteed livable income to ensure no Canadian lives in poverty.
  • Reverse decision to reduce home delivery of Canada Post.
  • Restore $117 million in funding to CBC/Radio-Canada, invest an extra $168 million and $315 million each year after.
  • Partner with First Nations for sustainable resource development.
  • Refocus Canada's defence policy on peacekeeping; border, northern, and coast guard patrols; rescue missions.
  • Reopen Veterans Affairs offices across Canada, reverse $200 million cut to services
  • Shift government-supported research away from biotechnology and energy intensive farming toward organic and sustainable food production.
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