Climate change an election ballot issue for many Canadians, including some faith groups

Drought and wildfires plagued western Canada in 2021: climate change is an issue under discussion during the federal election campaign. (Photo by Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN] – A coalition of faith groups that have been warning for years that unless climate change is addressed the future enjoyment of God’s creation by humanity is bleak are encouraged that most of Canada’s mainstream political parties address the issue in their campaign platforms as Canadians get set to vote in a national election on Sept. 20.

Just before the Canadian federal election was called, a United Nations report released on Aug. 9 stated that “earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system” has been severely impacted.

The report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that some of that climate change may already be “irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years” but added that “strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide … and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change.”

“While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize,” the UN report claimed.

As Catholic-related faith based organizations such as the Centre Oblate: A Voice for Justice, which has its offices within the Catholic St. Paul University in Ottawa, Development and Peace and the Canadian Religious Conference, continue to advocate on behalf of the faith-based For the Love of Creation coalition, the Angus Reid Institute said on Aug. 27 that “the top issue identified by voters in driving their ballot choice is climate change.”

According to Angus Reid Institute, there are other issues that are almost as important as a ballot issue to Canadians such as access to health care and tax rates (both 13 per cent), but the public survey organization said one-in-five Canadians (18 per cent) put climate change as the most important issue facing voters.

That climate change has become an important issue for Canadian voters does not surprise faith-based organization such as Kairos Canada, which plans to take part in a one-day “climate strike” just a few days after the federal election.

“With a federal election underway and extreme weather events abound, this is a historic opportunity to usher in the change that youth and marginalized communities have been calling for,” said Kairos on its website about the upcoming post-election event on Sept. 24 event.

Kairos Canada added that “by striking together, united by common struggles, we demand a rapid and fair decarbonization of our economy, for a safer, greener, more just future.”

Kairos Canada, which is overseen by the United Church in Canada also includes as member organizations the Catholic international aid organization Development and Peace and the Canadian Religious Conference, which since 1954 has been an outlet for more than 250 Catholic congregations.

According to the Angus Reid poll, voters who put a premium on climate change as an urgent issue are much more likely to support the governing Liberals or NDP when they vote, while Canadians who focus on traditional economic issues such as national debt and taxation levels are more likely to support the Conservatives despite O’Toole’s efforts to make the party more environmentally-friendly than it has been perceived as in past elections.

For the Ottawa-based Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ), a faith-based public policy advocacy organization, addressing climate change in a meaningful way is one of the key issues that Canadians face in the coming years.

“It is critical that (greenhouse gas) emission reductions are accelerated across the Canadian economy — especially the highest emitting sectors — and signficiant investments are made in a just transition to a new green, decarbonized economy,” said CPJ senior policy analyst Karri Munn-Venn.