Vision Green

(An addition to my earlier post given that it is being construed as an endorsement –  I found the NDP platform which was released after the Green platform  to be very strong on job creation and it has a strong green jobs and environment component as well. I’ve pasted an extract below. So nothing I said here should be taken as an endorsement of the Greens.)

“The New Democrats would introduce a bigger corporate tax rate increase than the Liberals, raising it to 19.5% rather than 18%, which will raise about $4 Billion more per year. They propose to raise $2 Billion from ending fossil fuel subsidies, almost ten times as much as the Liberals. They also propose to raise $1 Billion in new revenues next year rising to over $3 Billion in 2014-15 by cracking down on tax havens. (Details are apparently  to follow.)  There is a lot of evidence that the CRA have been extremely lax in preventing large-scale Canadian tax evasion and these numbers seem credible.

The New Democrats would also raise significant revenues – $3.6 Billion this year, rising to $7.4 Billion by 2014-15 – from an emissions cap and trade system. Proceeds from selling emissions permits would go to an impressive set of green economy initiatives, including major investments in energy efficient housing, expansion of public transit, and clean energy.

As Mike McCracken says in a short note included in  the NDP platform, major changes in the mix of spending compared to the current fiscal plan  would likely give a boost to job creation.  The big items in terms of job creation are significant tax credits to business for job creation and real investment in place of no strings attached tax breaks; the major green jobs package; and modest funds allocated to child care and other services which would create new jobs while meeting caring needs.”

 

I read the Green Platform with interest, not least because I have been a little irritated that the CBC Vote Compass came up with the conclusion that they are the party I, a lifelong NDP member, am closest to.

In all honesty, I may have to do a bit of  a rethink.  The long version of the platform “Vision Green”  – and it is far too long and detailed to summarize here – is well worth an extended read and lays out quite a compelling vision of a new and more environmentally sustainable economy and a fairer society.  In terms of detailed policy prescription, it overlaps very closely with the CCPA Alternative Federal Budget, and is bolder in places.

Just to cite a few key areas of focus, the environment is, unsurprisingly, a major priority, as it should be.  The greens advocate a significant carbon tax (with a twinned carbon tariff to limit job loss to other countries which fail to implement similar measures), plus a major program of investment in green jobs in clean energy, retrofits, mass transit, renewed freight transport systems, basic environmental infrastructure etc. They also present detailed proposals for a national energy security strategy and a sustainable resource economy, with a lot of detail on agriculture, forestry, fisheries etc.

On the social policy side, there is a very strong section on public health care emphasizing the need to halt creeping privatization, support for a national pharmacare program, support for a national child care program, improved EI and GIS benefits, and support for a poverty reduction strategy and affordable housing. They call for a major expansion of the CPP involving a doubling of the replacement rate to 50% PLUS a doubling of the YMPE to twice average earnings, which would virtually eliminate the private pension system over time.

There is a welcome emphasis on labour and human rights issues, on arts and culture, on democratic governance reforms, and very strong sections on global economic and social justice issues as well as on defence.

The Greens propose to renegotiate NAFTA under threat of aborogation so as to get rid of the energy and investor rights provisions and to incorporate stronger labour and environmental provisions. This would be the model for all new trade agreements. They also advocate Made in Canada policies as part of their green economy measures.

A couple of  more critical observations.

They don’t say a great deal about high unemployment and rising employment in precarious jobs, especially for women. And they commit to swift elimination of the federal deficit, rather than make the case that the energetic public investment program they propose would expand the economy and create good jobs while leading  to fiscal balance over time. I doubt that their full program would deliver a significant  boost to jobs if rapid deficit elimination is built in. And a  big carbon tax does have a downside, even if the revenues are all recycled.

The other reservation is on green support for family income splitting for tax purposes, a section of the platform which is highlighted by the green campaign. They justify this on the grounds that we need to expand the time families have to provide care and to live more balanced lives. This is a goal I support, but can be promoted by better policy options such as expansion of publicly funded caring services and better employment standards to promote working time flexibility.

So, I quite like the Green Vision, and hope the full NDP platform once released will point in many of the same directions.

Andrew Jackson is Chief Economist with the Canadian Labour Congress and a CCPA Research Associate.

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