On the eve of Canadian elections on Monday, progressives have issued a call to all corners of the country in an attempt to rally voters to the polls, saying the future of the nation—and perhaps the planet—depends on it.
One of the primary issues facing voters this election is the dominance of the tar sands industry in Canada, and the question remains whether either the Liberal or New Democratic Party (NDP) will garner enough votes to unseat the avowedly pro-fossil fuel Conservative Party, led by current Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Latest polling has the center-left Liberal Party, and its leader Justin Trudeau, leading with just over 37 percent—compared with the Conservative Party at 30.5 percent and the progressive NDP with 22 percent. The election outcome will likely depend on whether voters actually turn out at the polls and, as Canadian political analyst David Climenhaga wrote this week, follow through on their desire for change or "get cold feet."
However, one thing is certain, according to prominent Canadian activists Maude Barlow and Naomi Klein: "Another term of Harper’s Conservatives is a guarantee that Canada’s pattern of climate vandalism will pass the point of no return."
"At international climate negotiations, our government’s defiant commitment to carbon pollution will continue to be a barrier to progress, giving other governments an excuse to lower their ambitions and waste what is left of this critical decade," they continued adding that when Canadians vote on October 19, they must "stay focused on the planetary stakes of this election."
Though Barlow and Klein note that neither Trudeau nor NDP leader Tom Mulcair have "laid out a climate action plan that will get us off fossil fuels fast enough," both candidates have, at least, sworn greater oversight over the pipeline industry.
"NDP leader Tom Mulcair has said the approval process for pipelines is 'singularly defective.' And Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said it was 'not for governments to be cheerleaders for various pipelines,'" the Guardian reports.
Campaigners are hopeful that the participation of youth and First Nations voters will help tip the scale.
Brigette DePape, Council of Canadians youth vote campaigner and coordinator of student-led Storm the Dorm campaign, said they've already seen the highest ever advance voter turnout, many of whom were students and young people. "When 80% of young people want to see change, you have a very motivated demographic," added DePape. "Harper has done his best to create obstacles to voting, but nothing can stop us. We are the game-changers nobody saw coming."
And Chief Na’Moks of the Wet'suwet'en Nation in British Columbia, who has helped lead the First Nations legal battle against the Conservative-backed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline said that voters in Canada have to "remind themselves of who they are."
"I believe that all Canadians should vote, and vote properly – vote for your future, not just for words," he added.