Initiated at a two-day meeting last spring, the manifesto calls on Canada’s government to address issues facing our country today ranging from indigenous rights to increasing poverty to rampant inequality. However, the over-arching theme of the fifteen demands is of environmental stewardship as a means to combat our greatest threat, climate change.
To forge a sustainable future, the purveyors of the manifesto seek “energy sources that will last for time immemorial and never run out or poison the land.” Those behind the manifesto say the dream of a Canada powered entirely with renewable resources can become a reality by 2050.
The manifesto encourages a new principle behind energy development. “If you wouldn’t want it in your backyard, then it doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard.” A statement that unquestionably puts the spotlight on oil and gas pipelines currently destined to litter the country.
While many see the drop in oil prices as a crisis, the manifesto views it as an opportunity. The chance to construct a non-polluting economy that builds not only energy efficient homes but also retrofits existing ones. It is the chance to ensure that the lowest income communities will benefit first from both job training and poverty reduction. But since Canada has been plagued with inaction for so long, it’s recognized that an immediate investment in public infrastructure must be made in order to withstand extreme weather events that have now become the norm.
In addition, the climate crisis cannot be tackled successfully without addressing the agricultural system. Unlike our current one, an ecologically based system would sever our chokehold ‘dependence on fossil fuels and carbon capture allowing for the production of healthier food’ for all Canadians.
To pay for this dramatic shift in practice the manifesto calls for the right policies, which include:
- an end to fossil fuels,
- financial transaction taxes,
- increased resource royalties,
- higher income taxes on corporations and wealthy people,
- a progressive carbon tax and
- cuts to military spending.
The underlying message of The Leap Manifesto has resonated so deeply that it’s already garnered the support of prominent Canadians including actors Donald Sutherland, Ellen Page and Rachel McAdams; authors Joseph Boyden and Yann Martel; and musicians Alanis Morissette and Neil Young. Organizations that have also given their endorsement comprise of 350.org, Greenpeace Canada and Toronto Environmental Alliance.
The Leap Manifesto dares to envision a Canada neither broken nor fractured but whole. Achieving that hope will require a return to our core value of respect for all and in all aspects of life. An energy revolution will get us there. The crux of the issue is no longer whether Canadians are willing to do the work but how quickly we can make the leap.
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