The Leap Manifesto calls for a Canada remade as "a country powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit, in which the opportunities of this transition are designed to eliminate racial and gender inequality."
The Manifesto's authors — a who's who of Canadian scientists, artists, and activists — have a simple program for getting there: "an end to fossil-fuel subsidies. Financial transaction taxes. Increased resource royalties. Higher income taxes on corporations and wealthy people. A progressive carbon tax. Cuts to military spending." And it starts with honouring the primacy and land-claims of Canada's First Nations.
It's an amazing, audacious and urgent vision for a country whose successive governments have transformed it from a beacon of good governance, empathy and peacekeeping into a world-leading polluter, where selfishness is elevated to virtue and science-denial is the official doctrine.
As an alternative to the profit-gouging of private companies and the remote bureaucracy of some centralized state ones, we can create innovative ownership structures: democratically run, paying living wages and keeping much-needed revenue in communities. And Indigenous Peoples should be first to receive public support for their own clean energy projects. So should communities currently dealing with heavy health impacts of polluting industrial activity.
Power generated this way will not merely light our homes but redistribute wealth, deepen our democracy, strengthen our economy and start to heal the wounds that date back to this country's founding.
A leap to a non-polluting economy creates countless openings for similar multiple "wins." We want a universal program to build energy efficient homes, and retrofit existing housing, ensuring that the lowest income communities and neighbourhoods will benefit first and receive job training and opportunities that reduce poverty over the long term. We want training and other resources for workers in carbon-intensive jobs, ensuring they are fully able to take part in the clean energy economy. This transition should involve the democratic participation of workers themselves. High-speed rail powered by just renewables and affordable public transit can unite every community in this country – in place of more cars, pipelines and exploding trains that endanger and divide us.
And since we know this leap is beginning late, we need to invest in our decaying public infrastructure so that it can withstand increasingly frequent extreme weather events.
The Leap Manifesto [Naomi Klein, David Suzuki, Leonard Cohen, Donald Sutherland and Ellen Page]
(Image: IMG_5958.JPG, rdoroshenko, CC-BY)