Leap Manifesto calls for radical changes to Canada's extractive economy

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The Leap Manifesto: A call for a Canada based on caring for the earth and one another is signed by over 50 organizations including Oxfam, Idle No More, CUPE, CLC, PSAC, Council of Canadians, Greenpeace, 350.org and over 100 individual signatories of scientists, economists, artists, and activists.

The manifesto warns that: "climate scientists have told us that this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer get us where we need to go."

"So we need to leap!"

One of the manifesto's central demands is 100 per cent renewable energy by 2035 and a 100 per cent clean economy by 2050.

"If any politicians don't support that demand then they have to explain why," said Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything. "If the scientists are telling us that we have to do it, and the engineers are telling us that we can do it, then why are our politicians setting targets that are way off in the future?"

The manifesto, which was hashed out over two days of meetings with 60 activists in May, is wide-ranging, with a series of radical demands such as:

  • Fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

  • A "100 per cent clean economy by 2050."

  • A halt to new infrastructure projects such as oil and gas pipelines, fracking projects in New Brunswick, British Columbia and Quebec, increased tanker traffic off the coasts and Canadian mining companies operations around the world.

  • The creation of "innovative ownership structures [that are] democratically run, paying living wages and keeping much-needed revenue in communities."

  • A universal program to build energy efficient homes, and retrofit existing housing.

  • Retraining for workers in "carbon-intensive jobs."

  • Investment in public infrastructure that can better withstand extreme weather.

  • An end to all trade deals "that interfere with our attempts to rebuild local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive projects."

  • Welcoming "many more refugees and migrants seeking safety and a better life."

  • A national child-care program, similar to the one the province of Quebec has.

  • A universal annual income .

The signatories are planning to use the document to spark discussions and hold town-hall meetings through the fall and winter with the possibility of a "Leap Year" campaign in 2016.

Poet George Elliot Clarke didn't pull any punches when speaking at the meeting calling it "an apocalyptic moment for the planet."

"We have driven this entire planet to the brink of massive catastrophes that are definitely going to ruin everybody's bank accounts," said Clarke. "So there's definitely an economic imperative for moving us away from extremely destructive environmental exploitation in the name of supposed development. We have seen the wreckage and the ruin and in some cases the genocidal results of this kind of so-called development that is in fact destruction."

Can we afford to pay for of all of this? Three senior staff from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Bruce Campbell, Seth Klein and Marc Lee say, in short, the answer is "yes."

The CCPA points to their Alternative Federal budget which calls for an end to subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, a new financial transaction tax, higher royalties for natural resource extraction, increasing corporate taxes and getting rid of other tax exemptions, cutting the military to pre-9/11 levels, eliminating income-splitting and tax cuts for families with children, and a $30 per ton carbon tax. 

Seth Klein estimates these changes could generate an additional $50 billion a year for spending by the federal government and increase government spending an additional 2.5 per cent of Canada's GDP bringing it to a total of 15 per cent of GDP.

You can watch the Leap Manifesto press conference here, and get more information here


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