If bringing environmental leadership [G3] to Parliament is the goal this October, when we take a closer look at Ecology Ottawa’s election approach it becomes clearer why we are focused on two out the three swing ridings in our area.
While Ottawa Centre is arguably a swing riding, it tends to oscillate between the NDP (who hold the seat at the federal level) and the Liberals (who hold it at the provincial level). In our view, expending limited organizational time and resources on a contest between two parties that would do a better job advancing environmental policy than the current elected government would be an inefficient use of our energy this election season. For example, the NDP has been consistent in its calls for carbon pricing and in its advocacy for science-based climate legislation, and the Liberals, while under the direction of Stéphane Dion, had one of the most ambitious environmental platforms in Canadian history.
This riding represents a micro level national debate between these two federal parties of who can best deliver the change that Canada is looking for. As far as we are concerned, at this moment in Canadian history, as long as it is change we see, either of these two parties can deliver us from the mess we find ourselves in.
Orléans is a very different situation. This riding is essentially a two-way race between the Liberals (who currently hold the seat at the provincial level) and the Conservatives (who currently hold it at the federal level). And here’s why: if you take a look at the graphs below, you can see a clear trend both federally and provincially that sets the Conservatives and Liberals apart from the other parties.
Although we do believe that any opposition party can have a larger and more positive impact on environmental legislation and regulation in this country, we also understand that not all parties have the same chance of winning in Orléans. Considering the evidence that the likely Member of Parliament will be either a Liberal or Conservative, it makes the most sense that the strategic environmental choice in this riding is a vote for the Liberal Party candidate, Andrew Leslie.
Like Orléans, Ottawa West-Nepean is a swing riding because it tends to waver between the Liberals (current provincial representative) and the Conservatives (who held the federal seat until the former representative, John Baird, stepped down in the early spring of this year). However, in Ottawa West-Nepean, the NDP and the Green Party carry more influence than in Orléans, which makes calling this riding a two-way race a little problematic.
Past voting trends point to a distinction between the Liberals and Conservatives from the other parties, but the gap is not significant enough for us to identify the candidate in the best position to defeat the Conservative nominee. As such, our strategy in this riding is to look at polling closer to the election date and let voters know which party constitutes their best choice for environmental leadership in the House of Commons at that time.
Why this matters
Ecology Ottawa’s main focus is municipal level environmental issues such as protecting green space and waterways, working on active transportation issues, and promoting clean energy and climate action[G4] . But what happens at the federal level has a profound effect on our city. If we really want to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada, we need to ensure that we have the leadership in place on Parliament Hill that can help us make this a reality. This involves everything from funding rapid transit, to changing a reckless and unsustainable energy strategy, to preserving the health of our waterways, to acting on climate change.
We know we can make a difference. In 2014, Ecology Ottawa helped change the face of City Hall by asking residents of the City of Ottawa to vote for the environment. Prior to that, after collecting 12,000 petition signatures, we helped bring together all levels of government to stop dumping raw sewage into the Ottawa River. This year, we are working with our thousands of supporters across the city canvassing door-to-door and circulating our climate change petition to bring change to Parliament Hill.