Election 2021 ballot box

For voters interested in clean transportation, the Electric Vehicle Society has published an all-in-one guide to the different federal party platforms, based on a survey in which it asked each party five questions about their policies to boost EV adoption across the country

With a week to go until election day, the Electric Vehicle Society (EV Society) — a national not-for-profit organization of electric vehicle owners and enthusiasts — has released the results of its survey of Canada’s political parties’ plans to boost adoption as part of their election platforms.

The EV Society received replies from the Liberal and Conservative parties, but did not receive responses from the New Democratic Party, Green Party and Bloc Québécois. The positions of those three parties are compiled from their 2021 platforms.

“I think there’s a couple of parties that are much more focused on the role of EVs and ZEVs [Zero Emission Vehicles] and the transition to a cleaner economy, cleaner air and climate mitigation,” says Robert Sparks, head of the EV Society election survey sub-committee initiative, in an interview about the findings with Electric Autonomy Canada.

Looking at the differences and, in many cases similarities, between the party platforms on the issues of a zero emission vehicle future, Sparks says it all serves to underline the key motivation for the EV Society conducting the survey in the first place: electric vehicle adoption should be a priority issue and not just trendy green washing.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Sparks’ fellow Society members.

“The reason that we decided to do this survey for the federal election is that we know this is one of the most important elections in terms of making strong commitments and being able to actually deliver on that goal of net zero by 2050, and accelerate electric vehicle adoption,” says Kelsey Lane, government relations committee co-chair at the EV Society, in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada.

“All of the parties do mention electric vehicles. No matter what government gets into power, we have something to hold them accountable to.”

The issues at hand

The questions the EV Society posed to the federal parties are:

  1. If elected, what specific initiatives you will take to support or amend the [federal ZEV sales] target and what additional plans you will undertake in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector?
  2. If elected, what specific actions will your government take to help build domestic industry capacity in Canada?
  3. If elected, what commitment would you make to incentivise and support the buildout of additional and universally accessible charging infrastructure in Canada including residential and public charging infrastructure in rural and populated areas?
  4. If elected, what specifically will your government do to ensure that new and used electric vehicles are affordable for Canadians including low-income families?
  5. If elected, what will your government do to fund education and outreach campaigns that ensure access to reliable information regarding electric vehicles for all Canadians?

The responses were varied and nuanced, according to Sparks, but at a high level some key themes emerged.

“The Liberals have been very clear, offered precise targets and have costed out some of the steps they’re taking. The NDP is quite focused on making vehicles more accessible to Canadians in part through ramping up the industry,” says Sparks.

“The Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP have emphasized building up EV production in the auto industry. The Greens have heavily focused on public transportation and the Bloc is saying the same thing. They want to see investment in transportation and the public transportation industry. The NDP also focuses on public transit and transportation and the Liberals have a piece on that too. The only party that silent on that, I think, is the Conservatives.”

Information and accountability

While many of these findings will be familiar to anyone following the election closely — the parties’ platforms are available online and party representatives have also highlighted their pledges in interviews with industry trade association Electric Mobility Canada (EMC) — the EV Society’s hope is that their survey has consolidated the information in a way that will allow voters to educate themselves thoroughly and quickly. The results also serve as a tool against which to measure the future government’s performance.

“We need [Society] members and EV enthusiasts across the country to hold elected officials accountable to the promises that they made to the electorate,” says Lane. “Also, to go even further, and to ensure that the transition and what is needed for this transition is actually being delivered on year over year.”

With polls showing a close campaign, right now the 2021 election seems impossible for pundits to predict. Certainly voters who hold the issue of clean transportation and sustainability close to their heart, Sparks says, will have many pieces of information to consider about the parties’ platforms and their histories before they cast their ballot.

“One thing is clear — the Liberals have an identifiable track record which both helps them (major investments in ZEV rebates, charging infrastructure, EV industry, etc.) and hurts them (pipelines). How this will impact voters remains to be seen,” he writes in a follow-up e-mail to Electric Autonomy Canada

“The other parties have less visible track records and have made numerous campaign promises that, although impressive, aren’t well costed out and typically lack implementation timelines. So again, the question is how [will] this impact voters?”

The EVSociety 2021 Election Survey Highlights document is available here and the Platform Comparison is available here.