Green Party of Canada Platform: 1.2 Applying these principles to economic decision making, 1.3 Reporting the well-being of the nation more accurately

A continuing review of  the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:

1.2 Applying these principles to economic decision making

The bigger the challenge, the greater the opportunity. Canada and the world community face an environmentally-linked energy challenge of historic proportions over the next few decades. The reality of rising fossil fuel prices, increased losses due to extreme weather events caused by the worsening climate crisis, higher global temperatures, and worsening pollution levels will make mitigation and adaptation responses absolutely essential. Focusing community economic development and investment towards clean technology and services is both a smart economic development strategy and a superb investment opportunity.

Green technology has been called the greatest business opportunity of this century. All levels of government need to advance this green economic approach through effective tax and policy measures, and appropriate skills and trades training at the secondary and post-secondary levels.

As part of the federal government’s contribution to advancing this green economic vision, the Green Party of Canada Government will gradually and progressively shift current consumption taxes onto products and services that harm people and the environment, while reducing taxes on income, products and economic activities that do no harm. As pollution taxes increase, other taxes, such as income and payroll, decrease. This approach is called being “revenue neutral.”

By moving to “true” or “full-cost” accounting, whereby products and services are priced according to the positive or negative impacts they cause throughout their life cycle, our society can make rational market choices that will guide the economy toward environmental sustainability.

1.3 Reporting the well-being of the nation more accurately

By some accounts, the Canadian economy is performing quite well. But national prosperity is more than just the exchange of dollars. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – our national bottom line – is a measure of money changing hands without regard to whether we are reducing social inequalities, advancing sustainability or safeguarding our natural capital of primary resources such as wild fish populations, natural forests and fertile soils. Most economists agree that GDP is a poor measure of economic well-being or quality of life, yet our government continues to use it as the basis for its most important taxation and policy decisions.

The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) is a new and innovative accounting method that embraces a more systematic and comprehensive definition of well-being. Literacy, health and fitness, housework, family time, public infrastructure, cultural institutions, community volunteerism, water and air quality, forests, farmland, wetlands and employment are all measured by the GPI. Other countries, led by France following a ground-breaking study by Nobel award winners in economics, Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, are working to broaden measurements of prosperity beyond the GDP. Canada needs to catch up.

Green Party Members of Parliament (MPs) will:

  • Introduce legislation to establish a national GPI, such as the Canadian Index of Well-being developed by the Institute of Well-being, to provide the government with better information so it can do a better job of taxation and revenue-sharing with the other levels of government.
  • Modify Canada’s existing system of national accounts so that annual changes in the depletion and addition to Canada’s principal natural resources are measured as an integral part of Canada’s worth.

“Too much and too long, we have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things….The (GDP) counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Comments and discussion are welcomed.  I am examining this as I go to gain a better grasp of their platform and invite all who are interested to do the same with comments and discussion.

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