The Green Party’s Successful Campaigns for Climate Legislation in Canada

Over the last decade, Canada’s Green Party has supported important legislation for Canada’s action on climate change. For example, in 2015, amendments to Bill C-46, the Pipelines Safety Act, were accepted, including ‘aboriginal governing bodies reimbursement for actions in relation to a spill’ and the concept of polluter pays. The Green Party was part of the Canadian delegation to the UN Climate Change Paris Accord as well as successfully pushed for an emergency debate on the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 C (November 2018).

They also advocated for the Environment and Climate Change Minister’s motion to declare Canada was in a Climate Emergency and have prompted dozens of climate debates through Adjournment Proceedings. The Green Party also spearheaded an All-Party Climate Caucus of MPs to advance and deepen the understanding of multiple dimensions of the climate crisis (started in 2012,  this work continues with an executive of all five parties in the House). More recently, after three years of debate, a private member’s Bill S-203 (2019) achieved a ban on keeping whales and dolphins in captivity. Bill C-226, written by Green Party members to tackle Environmental Racism, cleared the House of Commons and is with the Senate for adoption. Bill C-226 has several high-profile NGOs supporting it. All of the above were driven by Elizabeth May, the first Green Party candidate elected to the House of Commons.

The following describes an important policy from the Greens setting a precedent for future health responses to climate change. The World Health Organization emphasizes that changes in weather and climate increase the transmission of vector-borne diseases. Ticks carrying Lyme disease have gradually shifted northward, expanding their range enormously due to climate change. The example below expands on the Parliamentary discussions on Bill C-442 (2014), the first Green private members bill to receive Royal Assent (also driven by Elizabeth May) passed to establish a national framework on Lyme disease, given IPCC reports that it is a debilitating climate change disease. Several steps resulted, including acknowledging an appropriate strategy, national standards, and funding to share best practices and addressing the challenges of recognizing and treating the disease.

As a result, Canada surveillance now tracks  Lyme disease incidence rates and associated disease costs. This includes tracking the numbers of people infected with Lyme disease, areas where tick populations may be emerging, and areas where people are most at risk. Provinces and territories report annual notifiable disease data for the Public Health Agency of Canada to monitor trends across Canada. Between 2009 and 2022, provincial public health units reported 17,080 human cases of Lyme disease across Canada. Ultimately education has prevented higher numbers.

The actual policy process involved:

  • Collection of thousands of petition names by those rallying for the bill and delivery to their respective Members of Parliament (MP)
  • Gathering of support from solid interest groups, ie College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association
  • Confirmation this was a private bill, sponsor appointment, draft bill writing.
  • Discussions with Health Canada staff on content
  • Recruitment of an MP seconder, followed by a presentation to the House of Commons and subsequent readings (3) for member feedback and approval
  • During the process, presentations to MPs from those afflicted with the disease
  • The House of Commons Committee was established to prepare for amendments and gather support from parties in the House.
  • Further process and adoption by Senate, then returned to the House of Commons.
  • Royal Assent to become law and delivery to Health officials for enactment

The Green Party’s climate platform includes a higher reduction target in greenhouse gas emissions of 60% from 2005 levels by 2030, net zero emissions as quickly as possible while aiming to be net negative in 2050, and the end of all production of fossil fuels (none of these adopted as yet). They have been a strong backer of a Just Transition policy and a comprehensive national climate and energy strategy (both now underway), accelerated increases in carbon pricing, a national 100% renewable energy electricity grid, and so forth.

Green Party of Canada contact – Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party – Email, PO Box 997, Station B Ottawa, ON K1P 5R1, Phone 1-866-868-3447.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Canada Country Manager Diane Szoller.


Climate Scorecard depends on support from people like you.

We are a team of researchers providing information on efforts to reduce global emissions. We help make you better informed and able to advocate for improved climate change efforts. Donations of any amount are welcome.