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As Youth-Led Campaign Kicks Off, Poll Shows Majority of Canadians Want a Green New Deal, Too

"Canada needs a Green New Deal to fight the climate crisis at the scale that science and justice demand."

Powershift: Young and Rising

Canadian climate activists participated in Powershift: Young and Rising—a massive youth climate convergence in Ottawa in February. (Photo: Allan Lissner via 350 Canada)

A new poll shows that the majority of Canadians want a Green New Deal to address the global climate crisis and economic injustice, as a youth-led campaign kicks off in the North American country to demand just that.

"People in Canada overwhelmingly want bold, transformative action on climate. And it's even more popular when you suggest the rich should pay more taxes to fund it."
—Derrick O'Keefe, writer and activist

Ottawa-based polling firm Abacus Data asked 2,000 Canadians whether they support or oppose "a massive government jobs program and investment in clean energy, green technology, and electrification" that "would aim to move Canada to 100 percent clean energy by 2030 and make it so Canada produces and consumes the same amount of carbon emissions by 2050."

Sixty-one percent of respondents said they support or somewhat support the proposal, recently popularized by a growing grassroots movement in the United States and progressive Democrats in the U.S. Congress. When pollsters asked Canadians if they would back a deal that "required corporations and the wealthy to pay higher taxes," support for the proposal shot up to 66 percent.

The survey was commissioned by North99, a Canadian nonprofit composed of "progressive people united by a concern about rising inequality and the increasing influence of the far-right."

Responding to the polling results (pdf) in a statement to The Toronto Star, North99 co-director Taylor Scallon said: "The conversation among politicians has revolved around pollution pricing, but climate change is an existential challenge and requires a solution that matches its scale. Canadians know we need a much broader mobilization against climate change."

The newspaper's report on Wednesday came as a coalition of young Canadians launched Our Time, a non-partisan campaign backed by international environmental group 350.org and local hubs across Canada. With the country's next federal election planned for October, Our Time is urging voters to sign a pledge to support candidates that endorse a Green New Deal for the country.

"Canada needs a Green New Deal to fight the climate crisis at the scale that science and justice demand," said Amber Dyck an organizer with the Our Time Ottawa hub. "The time of our political leaders doing business as usual is done, we're tired of watching politicians fail to take this crisis seriously. This is our time to decide and our time for a Green New Deal."

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The campaign's website lays out four key goals for a Canadian Green New Deal:

  1. It meets the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, listening to and basing its prescriptions for climate action on the best available science.
  2. It creates millions of good jobs through a historic economic mobilization to get Canada to 100 percent renewable energy that works for everyone.
  3. It enshrines dignity, justice, and equity for all, ensuring climate solutions are solutions that lift up all communities and reflect the reality that front line, marginalized, and Indigenous communities are bearing the brunt of fossil fuel and climate impacts.
  4. It works in service of real reconciliation—respecting the rights, title, and sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples.

"We don't live single-issue lives and climate change isn't a single-issue problem," said Avery Shannon, of Our Time's Vancouver hub. "If we want to tackle climate change, we have to tackle inequality; from the indigenous frontlines to disability justice. Our vision for this Green New Deal is to address all of that and more."

"People in Canada overwhelmingly want bold, transformative action on climate. And it's even more popular when you suggest the rich should pay more taxes to fund it," Canadian writer and social justice activist Derrick O'Keefe tweeted about the poll's findings. "Let's make this the frame of this year's federal election."

The results were also welcomed by the U.S.-based, youth-led Sunrise Movement—which launched a nationwide tour Thursday to build support for the Green New Deal resolution that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced in February with dozens of Democratic co-sponsors.

With a nod to the widespread support among Americans for the resolution, the group tweeted, "The #GreenNewDeal is taking off in Canada and...it's incredibly popular there too!"

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