Canadians couldn’t have been much clearer on Monday when they hit the polls in numbers that haven’t been see for decades: The Harper era is history after some ten years of Conservative rule led by outgoing Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. Elected with a decisive majority, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada have been given a mandate for change. Canadians were no doubt sick of the divisive politics, our crumbling international reputation, our fragile resource-burdened economy, and a government who was relentless in its bidding for Big Oil.
The Harper years will be reflected on as the darkest in Canada’s environmental history. Muzzled federal scientists, the gutting of decades’ worth of environmental regulations, the steamrolling of First Nations Rights, the demise of Canada’s climate leadership on the world stage, the removal of the public from public consultation processes — the list is long and tragic.
There is a common thread that weaves through all of these scandals: The Alberta tar sands, Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution. The Harper government made it a priority to ensure nothing stood in the way of its rapid, unfettered, and unregulated development. At a time when governments and world leaders were promising action on climate change, Canada was abandoning international climate treaties, and treating the first decade of the century as though the looming climate crisis was non existent.
With Harper and his government turfed to the back benches of parliament, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals face some unprecedented challenges in rebuilding the Canada that Canadians want. A Canada that punches above its weight when it comes to global challenges like climate change, and a Canada that takes justice, equity, and human rights seriously.