Since Elizabeth May unveiled her environmental program last week, many of you have asked me about her support for tar sands oil, and rightly so.
What Ms. May is proposing is to ban oil imports in order to promote the canadian tar sands and the Canadian economy. She intends to do this by financing the construction of refineries equipped to process this type of oil across eastern Canada.
This will ensure the continuity of tar sands operations for decades to come. I cannot, in good conscience, defend this position, which defies the scientific consensus and the environmental movement in Quebec, Canada and around the world.
The Green Party of Québec is firmly opposed to the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure as well as the consumption of oil from the tar sands in Quebec. Ms. May’s proposal is in direct opposition to our position in Quebec. We were not consulted on this controversial position that is very divisive within the federal party itself.
Tar sands oil is dirty oil. This position is shared by Quebec Premier Françoi Legault. It is a scientific fact. Greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental impact of tar sands oil is significantly higher than conventional oil. In the context of climate emergency, it makes no sense to favour the consumption unconventional and highly polluting oil.
Although Ms. May has made her position clear, this issue has long been a source of disagreement within the Green Party of Canada. I am in no way trying to justify the federal party or Ms. May’s position on oil. On the contrary, my conscience forces me to express my profound disagreement on this issue. The policy will be up for review at the next federal convention and I plan to campaign actively to have it overturned by the membership.
Within a month, I will be visiting the tar sands in person to see the magnitude of the problem while interacting with local environmentalists and workers.
We all want to protect workers and make a just transition. This does not require the continuation of an industry that is simply not sustainable, either ecologically or economically. As Canadian citizens, it is our responsibility to pressure governments to keep the tar sands oil in the ground and to shut down the tar sands as quickly as possible. That is what I intend to continue to do.
Alex Tyrrell B.Sc Env
Leader of the Green Party of Quebec