There has been quite a bit of noise this past week over The LEAP Manifesto, since the media coverage of the Federal NDP Convention, and the subsequent divisions that came from the decision they made. But what’s the conversation really about? Why are some hugely in favour, and others hugely opposed, to this document?
An excellent Q&A was shared with me recently from the creators of this project, and I wanted to share it with you, too – it has been edited for length, below.
To be clear, the Manifesto is a non-partisan project, as much as some would love to claim it as a left-wing pet project – that simply isn’t the case.
So take a look at the Q&A and see if it helps your understanding, it certainly helped me keep an open mind. The goals for a cleaner future, where everyone has access to stable, equitable, environmentally sustainable jobs sounds pretty good to me!
1. So… what just happened?
On Sunday April 10th 2016, Canada’s New Democratic Party passed a resolution to discuss and debate The Leap Manifesto in riding associations across the country in the lead-up to their 2018 policy convention.
The NDP convention took place in the oil-producing province of Alberta, where at least 75,000 workers have lost their jobs since the oil price crash of 2015. Alberta elected an NDP majority government last May for the first time in the province’s history; that government is trying to diversify the economy, weather a recession, and has introduced an historic climate action plan… but is still vigorously calling for new tar sands pipelines.
Because The Leap Manifesto states: “There is no longer an excuse for building new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future”, the idea of the federal NDP debating and potentially adopting this proposition set off a corporate media frenzy.
2. Is this really all about shutting down the Alberta tar sands tomorrow, killing Alberta jobs and tanking the Canadian economy? That’s what I’ve been reading.
The document does not call for an immediate end to fossil fuel production in Canada, nor does it call for anyone to be thrown out of work. It’s a vision of an economy based on “caring for the earth and each other” – a call for a transition beyond fossil fuels, in which the people worst-affected by fossil fuel development (including indigenous communities and laid-off oil workers) are first to benefit from the clean jobs of the next economy.
By signing the Paris climate accord, our new federal government has committed to a clean energy transition in Canada. In line with the global consensus on climate science and echoing longstanding calls from Indigenous land defenders and others, The Leap Manifesto does make a demand of no new fossil fuel infrastructure as the country begins its transition to a renewable energy economy.
So will investing in renewables instead of pipelines tank the economy? Investments in renewables create 6-8 times more jobs than those in the fossil fuel industry. Around the world, clean energy is now seeing twice as much investment as fossil fuels — the shift is happening so fast that infrastructure based around fossil fuels built today are at risk of becoming stranded assets.
“…the world has reached a turning point, and is now adding more power capacity from renewables every year than from coal, natural gas, and oil combined.” – Bloomberg News, Solar and Wind Just Did the Unthinkable. Jan 14 2016
Researchers at Stanford University have mapped out how Canada can get to a 100% clean energy economy by 2050, and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process. A cross-country Canadian research project has also mapped out how Canada can shift its entire electrical grid to clean energy by 2035.
3. Is The Leap Manifesto the only group in Canada that opposes new pipelines?
The opposition to new pipelines in Canada has been led by the Indigenous communities whose land those proposed pipelines would cross over without their consent, and whose ability to live off the land would be most impacted by oil spills. Public sentiment against pipelines is also particularly strong in both British Columbia and Quebec.
Opposition to new pipelines is not an extreme position in Canada. And energy insiders are now making the case that with the low price of oil, the economics of new tar sands pipelines don’t make sense any more. Beyond all that, the climate science on new pipelines is clear: Canada can’t build them and meet the carbon emissions commitments we made in Paris in December.
4. Was The Leap Manifesto written by those latte-swilling downtown Toronto socialists Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis?
The Leap Manifesto came out of a meeting (yes, held in Toronto) that brought together dozens of social-movement activists from six provinces: Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, B.C. and Alberta. It is a consensus statement – literally written by committee – that reflects a common vision from across a spectrum of different causes. It launched with the support of respected Canadians that support a range of political parties, and organizations as diverse as Oxfam, Black Lives Matter-Toronto, No One Is Illegal-Coast Salish Territories, Idle No More, CUPE, CUPW and the Council of Canadians What makes The Leap Manifesto different than other environmental statements is the unprecedented coalition behind it. You can see all the initiating signatories and organizations here.
5. So is The Leap Manifesto an NDP thing now? What if I don’t support the NDP?
The Leap Manifesto is a non-partisan project and always will be. As we wrote in this statement, the Greens and other parties endorsed the document months before the NDP passed this resolution, and the Liberals have made strides in advancing some of the document’s key demands since they took office. The Leap Manifesto is and will always be a non-partisan project, with supporters from every political party, and some who support none.
6. I heard The Leap Manifesto calls for an end to all animal agriculture. I don’t remember reading that in the document — did you add it after I signed?
No! This is from a vegan spoof site that started up after the Leap launched, and has now been unhelpfully referenced in the Alberta legislature. On agriculture, The Leap Manifesto states:
Moving to a far more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, capture carbon in the soil, and absorb sudden shocks in the global supply – as well as produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone.
… a position which, if implemented as policy, would strengthen our local agricultural production and food security. Please help us get the word out about this.
7. What happens now?
This is the beginning of a larger conversation about the speed of Canada’s transition to a renewable economy, and how it intersects with Indigenous rights, retraining for workers, and community priorities.
While the debate that exploded this week is in some ways worrisome – dredging up old frames of jobs vs the environment, and pitting workers against climate action – we welcome the opening of this conversation in the public sphere. We hope to see The Leap Manifesto inspire more debate – but most importantly, actions at all levels of government, in the business world and at a community level, to make the shift to a clean energy Canada based on caring for the earth and one other.
Please share your thoughts – what do you like, and what could be improved?
Five Articles Worth Sharing:
Why the ruckus over the Leap Manifesto?
Linda McQuaig, Toronto Star
Let’s get real about the Leap Manifesto: it’s not a job killer.
Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight
Sorry, pundits of Canada. The Leap will bring us together.
Avi Lewis, Globe & Mail
Dear Leap Manifesto critics: there will be no jobs on a dead planet.
Gary Engler, National Observer
Clean disruption? Stanford group plans for 100% green-energy future.