1) Put people's HEALTH & WELLBEING first. No exceptions.
• Protects the Environment: GRADE C
The Climate Crisis is a health crisis! As the throne speech reinforced, “Canadians [know] climate change threatens our health, way of life, and planet. They want climate action now, and that is what the Government will continue to deliver.” So far though, the Government actually hasn’t delivered enough climate action and commitments fall short of what is needed to protect the environment.
Some of the commitments in the speech, following the acknowledgment “of the importance of nature” include:
While these are important steps for ensuring an intact ecosystem and protecting peoples’ health and wellbeing, we need significant action to protect biodiversity and create nature-based carbon sinks like those represented by the Boreal Forest and agro-ecology. The speech doesn’t fully address industrial practises that harm nature. It also does not acknowledge Indigenous land stewardship, sovereignty and self-determination. Indigenous peoples continue to protect land, air and water as they have for centuries. We need a complete shift away from destructive, extractive practises that harm people and the planet.
• Takes care of everyone: GRADE B
The pandemic increases existing vulnerabilities and quickly multiplies threats to health and wellbeing. The climate emergency, our “forever” emergency, does the same. When peoples' basic needs - shelter, food, healthcare - are jeopardized, our ability to withstand crisis itself becomes compromised. With this in mind, TO350 looked for the intention to put firm and equitably distributed measures in place to address vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic. The needs for a resilient health care system, safe, affordable homes and the ability to put “nutritious food on the table” are addressed. In some cases, though, as with the promise to “[look] into further targeted measures for personal support workers,” we question whether the promises are strong enough, what they actually entail and whether they will be fulfilled.
Some highlights from the speech….
***For the climate and a livable future for all, the promise of jobs retrofitting homes and buildings that cut energy costs is super-important in combination with housing initiatives.
2) Strengthen the SOCIAL SAFETY NET and provide relief directly to people.
We need a full, swift transformation of society to ensure a livable future. In order to build strong communities able to withstand the impacts of crises, measures taken need to strengthen social infrastructure and reduce inequality, centring vulnerable, and especially racialized communities. TO350 was very happy to see an anti-austerity agenda directly expressed in the speech, as well as the idea that people “need strong, safe communities to call home.” That said, while we listened, questions came up around how much of the intentions are new, how overdue these actions are, whether they are taking the most effective form and how the details will roll out.
Some highlights from the speech….
• Strengthens Communities: GRADE C+
Progressive Taxes, Income Supports & Education/Training:
Some things TO350 Questions: does this go far enough into the potential of wealth taxes to help us make the transition to a just, green, livable future? Is this an adequate substitute for a UBI or CERB extension? UBI would help address poverty and inequality which would strengthen food security and other determinants of health and wellbeing. Will it serve the long-term? With the repeated emphasis on the middle class in the speech, will the growth-economy and current system be transformed deeply enough?
• Enables Positive Change: GRADE B
The speech states that “[we] cannot forget what has made us a country that is welcoming…..That achieves progress on gender equality, walks the road of reconciliation, and fights discrimination of every kind.” and goes on to say that “[t]here is work still to be done, including on the road of reconciliation, and in addressing systemic racism.” They said it! TO350 wants to see more than half-measures and that past missteps are not repeated.
In the area of Disability Justice, we are happy to see the Disability Inclusion Plan. On the other hand, it is quite disappointing that the speech acknowledges that migrant workers “deserve the Government’s full support and protection” but follows up with weak statements about making “it easier for them to formally become Canadian” and no firm commitment to Status for All. The speech also acknowledges the critical need for Gender Equity, stating, “Women – and in particular low-income women – have been hit hardest by COVID-19. This crisis has been described as a She-cession” and that Women shoulder a large caregiving burden, especially in times of crisis.
Some highlights from the speech….
• Promotes Racial Justice: GRADE C
Environmental Justice is racial justice. A complete societal transformation that leads to valuing and protecting people and the ecosystems we live within - no more sacrifice zones, no profits before people, no protecting the very wealthy at the expense of so many - has to take place. The roots of the climate crisis, including colonialism and extractivism, are also roots of systemic injustice. What’s more, the impacts of the climate crisis are disproportionate and completely unjust. While TO350 thinks the open admissions about systemic racism in the speech are a good step forward, we question whether the speech reflects the scale of the transformation needed. We need the government to listen to those on the frontlines of justice and centre racialized communities in their plans. We need them to follow through with action that is long overdue!
TO350 also looked at the recommendations of the Parliamentary Black Caucus to help assign this grade. To highlight one response, Liberal MP Greg Fergus, speaking for the caucus, expressed that "the fact that all the major aspects of what [they] want to accomplish as a Parliamentary Black Caucus is in there, [leaves] the door wide open for [him] to make sure that these things become concrete.” - Quote from the article Throne speech promises on tackling systemic racism earn mixed reactions by Lee Berthiaume, for the Canadian Press, September 24th, 2020.
Some highlights from the speech….
However, the points in the speech about policing and the justice system, like modernizing training, reforming the RCMP and investment to address systemic inequities, fall far short of defunding the police and prison abolition. Funds need to shift from police and RCMP to social support programs.
3) Workers & Communities
• Values everyone’s contribution: GRADE B
Strong marks for extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and announcing an Action Plan for Women in the Economy “to ensure a feminist, intersectional response to this pandemic and recovery.” Still needed: action to improve workers’ rights, wages, benefits and conditions, especially for care and service workers. The pandemic has taught us the meaning of essential workers, but our economy still treats them as expendable. To “build back better,” we need to address whole communities’ needs, with comprehensive programs to promote equity, justice and equality.
• Helps others work together for the good of all: GRADE: B
The stand-out announcement in this area is the promise to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system. Another positive is the incentives and infrastructure for zero-emission products. Still lacking, though, is a plan for comprehensive industrial conversion. The aspiration to “support manufacturing, natural resource, and energy sectors as they work to transform to meet a net zero future” is too vague to be credible. The government needs to set goals and timelines, and commit resources, for the sake of energy and resource workers, their communities, and the climate. Training programs should be targeted particularly to Indigenous and single-industry communities, and business supports should prioritize diversification of local economies. A Just Transition Act, as proposed in the 2019 Liberal platform, could be a valuable tool, but it wasn’t mentioned. One initiative, mentioned virtually in passing, could be transformative if it is implemented with sufficient ambition and at the appropriate scale. The “campaign to create over one million jobs” based at least partly on strategic investments in the social sector and climate action, could be a fundamental aspect of a Just Recovery, and a transition to a caring and sustainable society. It will require a serious commitment of government resources, and very broad community engagement.
4) Building Resilience
• Makes plans that serve the long term: GRADE B-
The pledge to “exceed” Canada’s current emissions reduction target for 2030 is simply not enough. We need a new, firm target for 2030 that meets the IPCC threshold to avoid catastrophe. This target needs to be supported by legislation, regulation, and a comprehensive plan, including interim benchmarks to make sure we’re on track. Canada also needs to increase and refocus its commitment to International Climate Finance, to do our fair share in enabling communities around the world to address the climate crisis, and protect themselves from its consequences. While there are several initiatives that should provide long-term benefit, including building retrofits and disaster preparedness, the government has not demonstrated adequate understanding of key future challenges.
• Follows up with appropriate, effective action: C+
Welcome announcements were made on zero-emission vehicles, building retrofits, and tree planting, and there was reference to renewable and clean energy. Another positive was the omission of the fossil fuel and airline industries from the list of hard-hit sectors flagged for support. But key components of a zero-emission vehicle policy were missing, including a mandate that a proportion of vehicle sales be zero-emission, and a fixed end-date for new gas vehicles. The suggestion that Canada’s mineral resources can support the development of battery manufacturing needs to be coupled with enhanced social and ecological regulation of mining. Support for regional air routes needs to be balanced by the development of clean surface transit wherever possible. Canada’s fossil fuel subsidies are still at serious cross purposes to a sustainable future, and must be ended, especially those for industry expansion. Of particular concern is federal involvement in new and expanded oil and gas pipelines, both directly and through Export Development Canada. These projects are incompatible with a credible climate plan, and must be stopped.
We need a Climate Accountability Act that provides 3 - 5 year planning windows and annual accountability checks.
Science tells us we need to achieve a 60% cut in emissions by 2030 (Canada’s fair share) so we need to not only exceed current target – we need to change the target to one that is science-based and contributes our fair share to International Climate Finance.
In committing to the creation of thousands of retrofit jobs, will the government commit the funds required for full implementation of a mass deep retrofit program? $26 Billion is a minimum for serious investment in this goal." - ClimateFast
5) Building Solidarity
• Shares Resources Fairly and Cooperate: GRADE C-
The government is working with the international community to help reduce emissions in other countries with the Power Past Coal Alliance that was started with the UK. Yet, in the throne speech, there was no talk of helping the global south or making sure there are fair green trade agreements that would help developing countries around the world. We need to see an increase in International Climate Finance, one that represents Canada’s fair share based on global climate targets and the disproportionate impacts of fossil fuel extraction and the climate crisis.
• Shows Responsibility for Others: GRADE C
The throne speech was a mixture of good news and missing pieces. The government talked about helping people in long-term care but missed the mark on migrant rights, human rights, and talking about youth empowerment. There was talk about 1 million jobs and the future generation but that wasn’t enough to show a commitment to a livable future for the youth today and coming generations. With migrant rights, there was no Full & Permanent Immigration Status for All mentioned anywhere in the throne speech.
Many of the programs announced today are extensions of failed promises, failed investigations, and poor investments already underway. Without taking responsibility for those failures and providing any meaningful reconciliation and protection of all people, we will not achieve a Just Recovery....Without explicit goals and timelines beyond the typical "we will continue to deliver [program x]" and by presenting supposed new plans using vague buzzwords, we will not be successful in "building back better" from COVID-19." - Erin Andrews (She/Her)| Founder & Executive Director, Impact Zero Foundation⠀
6) Indigenous Rights
• Respects the Rights of Others: GRADE D
In the throne speech, the government said they will introduce legislation for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) before the end of year. That is positive, but doesn’t mean the government will follow through with appropriate action, uphold the traditions, laws, customs and values of Indigenous Peoples, abide by Free, Informed and Prior Consent or respect Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. In fact, with pipelines and development on First Nations territory, TO350 notes a terrible track record and ongoing violations of Indigenous rights and there was no talk of Indigenous rights to land and having a true voice in disputes that happen nation-to-nation. The speech does promise co-development of “distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation” and continuing to address the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities on a “distinctions-basis.” One specific promise mentioned is a clean drinking water commitment but the original timeline had been thrown out previously, because of the pandemic, and a lack of commitment to this priority demonstrated.
• Takes Appropriate Responsibility for Actions: GRADE: F
The throne speech highlighted that more action will be taken in reference to the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action” and “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls”. Yet, true nation-to-nation work keeps being delayed every year and the systemic changes needed are not put in place.
• Makes Reparations: GRADE F
The throne speech doesn’t talk about making reparations to Indigenous people for the trauma they have experienced since settlers first came to Turtle Island. Work to redress harms done and make sustained investment in Indigenous communities and Indigenous-led initiatives and solutions is long overdue. In fact, the trauma and harm continues today.
Watch Party Asides:
"A lot of things in the climate section are re-annoucements of the same things they already announced in the 2019 election platform or just after.... Immediately [bring forward a plan to exceed 2030 climate target]? - they have been talking about that since the end of the election in 2019." - Amelia Rose
“A quarter of land and oceans - what’s a quarter of the oceans mean? I found a reference to supporting half of all natural resources. Nature Needs Half! Humans and Big Ag livestock makes up 96% of mammal biomass on the planet.” - Brian
“Thy rod and thy staff, they delay me.” - Brian
"Her mask has flowers on it = environmentalism in the speech!" - Matthew
"anti-austerity! No social service cuts!” - Matthew
“Fiscal firepower is the meme for the day?” - Sharon
“[For finance they mentioned] big tech, corporations hiding taxes, and put a bit of an emphasis on trying to get [money from] the people who are really benefiting during the COVID crisis.” - Dawn
“They used phrases and terminology like #BuildBackBetter and mentioned nearly all of the “touchstones” in our Just Recovery grading platform. That made me hopeful. But a lot of the promises were repeat promises, ones that they had made in the past and action on them is long overdue. For a clearer idea of what these stated intentions mean and what actions they lead to, we will have to wait to see what unfolds, for the 2021 budget and recovery plans.” - Colleen
“Of course totally missing was the election system [and needed reform]. It was put in the “forget me box.” - Dix
“Some of the words they used really were jarring because you can tell who was writing it, what age group and how they are thinking about society...." - Amelia Rose
“‘Middle class and those working hard to join it’ was a favourite phrase.” - Sharon
"Need more about the RCMP [violence] and far-right white nationalism and how to combat these” - Matthew
“I’m surprised at all of the detail. It is very expensive, what they were talking about. There were no specifics on the environmental side, about how they will proceed with developing renewable energy, how to finance this [transition]. It appears that they are going to rely on debt finance which is basically a Keynesian approach and I would think that they need to use the central bank to a larger extent." - Dix
“….but a lot of the hydrogen is not green! It is touted by O&G as a way to justify continuing with their extraction” - Sharon
“In respect to climate in particular, I’m happy about the EV charging stations, [plan] to be leaders in building batteries and create jobs in things that are forward-thinking. Also, retrofits. It would save a tonne of energy if our buildings were better insulated and built, particularly in Canada where we have to deal with a myriad of climate [elements], this is important.” - Dawn
“Very unhappy about the transition off of fossil fuels....Just like the teacher’s pension plan where they want carbon neutral airports but [continue] supporting airports. That means we’re still producing fossil fuels and balancing with some kind of other thing - did they mention hydrogen? natural sequestration?” - Brian
"Why's he saying work with the sector? Also the energy sector always seems to just mean the oil and gas industry. No mention of the removal of fossil fuel subsidies or tmx" - Matthew
"energy sector was mentioned quite a few times but no mention of eliminating subsidies for oil, gas or coal mining. Likely will continue, and we can't keep using transition period needed as an excuse." - Nikki
"That cutting of corporate tax rate for clean tech companies may help." - Matthew
"Planning for 'long-term pathways' is okay but there's still the distance factor...not seeing things as imminent and doing things now." - Colleen
"Clean growth? Growth is the problem." - Matthew
"We need a circular economy, a doughnut economy, one that combines planetary boundaries with complementary social boundaries."
"[Mining for batteries still] needs to be smart and how to do deal with the waste safely. Ethically mined though? And with Indigenous involvement." - Matthew
"MAPA countries were only mentioned in connection with covid and bringing back stranded canadians. We need real international aid, we need to share our wealth and resources instead of leaning into protectionism." - Nikki
"free informed prior consent continues to be evaded, projects continue on unceded land. #defundtmx" - Nikki
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