Quebec has played an important role in the development of Canada’s Green Party since the party’s conception in the mid-1980s. In total, the Green Party of Quebec is running 110 candidates out of a possible 125 in the upcoming election.
Quebec party leader Scott McKay recently spoke to The Concordian about why a Green vote is now more important than ever.
The Green Party has proposed that Quebec will be able to successfully lower its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent between now and 2020. McKay said Quebec’s traditional politicians have been “dragging their feet on the issue of the environment for too long.”
McKay said Canada can achieve the Kyoto targets for greenhouse gas emissions, and that Quebec’s role should be to encourage environmentally-sound practices.
He added that both Charest and Boisclair have made decisions that have been detrimental to the environment, and that the Quebec public is right to be worried. “The time for discussion is over, [the government has] to take action and we want results,” McKay said.
To finance their environmental policy, the party is calling for the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) on services to be lowered from its current level of 7.5 per cent to four per cent.
McKay explained that the Green Party would heavily tax the worst polluters, while giving tax subsidies on products that are less harmful to the environment. “It’s kind of the Green Robin Hood of modern times,” McKay said.
“But instead of taking to the rich to give to the poor, we would take from the heavy polluters to give [to those making] healthy choices.” For example, someone buying a Hummer vehicle would be taxed at the highest level, while that extra money would be given to people buying a low-emission vehicle.
McKay explained that the Green Party would invest heavily into the education system, and ensure access to education from kindergarten to university. The exact amount of money the party plans to invest was not specified.
The leader said that merely answering yes or no to lift the tuition freeze is a “very superficial way” to look at the whole situation. He added that short-term solutions are not enough to fix Quebec’s education system.
“We would accept having the freeze lifted on tuition fees, but only in the case where we’d be reassured that the students that are in need are supported sufficiently,” McKay said.
He proposed the creation of a formal committee to evaluate the needs of students, and for more bursaries to be allocated as well. “The trend has been to give always more and more loans and less bursaries. We believe we should inverse that trend totally and support the students that need the most support and stop that cycle of debt,” McKay said.
In addition, he voiced his concerns regarding how the current provincial government spends money on education. “A total sum of $55 million goes to the general budget of the province and there’s no way that the anglophone school boards can track down where that money is spent,” he said.
McKay explained that the $55 million is allocated to finance English schools in minority communities, but that instead, the Green Party believes the money is going to English as a second-language classes for grade one and two students in francophone schools.
“It would be scandalous if that’s being done while English schools are being closed and young students from the anglophone communities are being bussed farther and farther,” McKay said.
Who is Scott McKay?
Montreal native Scott McKay was elected as leader of the Green Party of Quebec in May 2006.
McKay was Vice-President of the City of Montreal’s Environment and Public Works Committee. He is running in the electoral district of Bourget, in East-End Montreal.
The Green Party promises to:
Achieve Kyoto targets
Lower Quebec’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30% between now and 2020
Devote a minimum of $580 million a year to the fight against climate change
Reduce the overall Provincial Sales Tax (PST) rate from 7.5 percent to 4 percent by:
Increasing the PST on products responsible for GHG emissions
Reducing service taxes and refundable tax credits on products less harmful to the environment
Decentralize power towards the regions to encourage public participation
Provide a family doctor to all Quebecers
Ensure access to education from kindergarten through to university