concept of a green car by a green field

Despite the familiar outcome, the federal election broke important new ground when, for the first time, party leaders of all political stripes presented platforms that positioned clean transportation as a key to climate action, writes Wilf Steimle, president of EV Society

Another election come and gone. 

On paper, at least, it seems we are starting where we left off: a Liberal minority government, Conservative opposition and a whole lot of disenfranchised, pandemic-weary, and economically battered Canadians.

It’s easy to write off #Elxn44 as a waste of time, money, and what little energy we all have left. But here is a radically different perspective to consider: yes, it was expensive; yes, it may have been an inopportune time; but the results of this snap election may have just improved this country’s environmental future all thanks to the EV wave that permeated all five major political party’s platforms.

This theory begins and ends with the intense pre-election research that EV Society conducted. 

Zero-emission platforms

The long and the short of it is that none of our political parties hit a home run with their clean transportation platforms. In a survey conducted by EV Society this month, we asked Canadian EV leaders to grade each of the parties based on certain zero emission adoption criteria. With a few exceptions, the feedback was a rainbow of Bs and Cs with a few Ds thrown in. 

It’s possible this was a jaded reaction to an election no one wanted, but more likely it’s because all of the parties more or less echoed each other’s targets, policies, and rhetoric. While that may not make for the most scintillating of electoral debates, the similarities are comforting now that we are presented with another minority government.

“…we know that there is an appetite from everyone to do something”

Wilf Stemlie, President, EV Society

Fast forward to a few weeks from now when regular programming resumes on Parliament Hill and clean transportation stakeholders return to the business of lobbying, educating, and trying to corral cross-aisle cooperation in order to keep the momentum on ZEV adoption building. Not only will the near total absence of personnel change make the business of getting back to business much easier but we know that there is an appetite from everyone to do something.

Pushing a step beyond that, this minority government will force everyone and every group who is toiling to promote their climate-related agenda with the government to deal with all the parties, rather than concentrating on winning over a single majority party. In this way we are all moving together — red, blue, orange, green, French, English, young up-and-comers and the old guard — to a cleaner, more resilient future.

Working together

To me this is a democratic ideal of sorts reminiscent of “days-gone-by” when political parties in Canada’s parliament worked together to secure a better future for all Canadians rather than spending precious time and resources fighting “the opposition.”

This is not in any way to suggest that our political leaders are all going to hold hands singing Kumbaya and skipping into a green-grassed, clean air, 1.5°C-limited fairyland. Oh, nay, nay.

There will be many of the bickering hallmarks we have come to expect of our political discourse, but at least we can take some comfort in knowing that none of our elected leaders are vying to do absolutely nothing about the climate crisis that has already begun to threaten our communities and the security of future generations.

Some officials will be dragged, reluctantly, further into emission-reducing measures than they would like — sales targets, critical supply chains, and incentives — while others will feel frustrated and stifled at being held back from the full throttle at which they would like to go — binding mandates, cross-border trade agreements, education and re-training programs, and even more incentives. 

Much like our recent policy survey reflected, there will be very few among us who are perfectly happy — not the public, not the manufacturers, not Canadian businesses, and not the politicians. But, conversely, there will hopefully be few who can look back on this government’s term and say there was no progress on the clean transportation, the climate crisis, or emission reducing files.

At last, it seems, there is a growing awareness that a rapid and just shift to electrified transportation will not only help to protect our environmental future, it can bring economic prosperity to Canada and Canadians. 

Our job now is to put aside the divisions that an election invariably sows and work together with all of our elected officials — to hold them to their promises made on the campaign trail in order to meet our targets and build a better Canada, which, it seems, is what at the end of the day we all want.

Wilf Steimle

Wilf Steimle is president of Electric Vehicle Society which represents the interests of the quarter million EV drivers in Canada.