The Future Canadians Want

We Canada consultations report The Future Canadians Want, 2012, Executive Summary.

From January 28 to March 27 2012, We Canada visited 16 cities across the country, consulting Canadians from every region on sustainable development issues in the lead up to Earth Summit 2012. The purpose of these consultations was to gather the insights, opinions, and aspirations of Canadians and to carry them forward to the Government of Canada, the provincial, territorial and municipal governments, and the international community.

We Canada serves as a voice for Canadians who believe sustainable development should be a priority for their country and for the international community. It aims to increase civil society’s participation and representation in policy-making on the national and global stage in the lead up to the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, Earth Summit 2012 or Rio+20) in June 2012.

In total, 8,000 participants, mainly young people between 10 and 25 years of age, organized their own Earth Summit Dialogues or attended one of We Canada’s events, which were held in elementary, middle and secondary schools, colleges and universities.

Feedback gathered from the dialogues and We Canada events revealed that as the world seeks to transition toward sustainable and green economies, Canada should be a leader and lay the foundation to meet young people’s demand for green jobs. In order to improve transparency in decision-making, participants are asking the Federal Government to increase consultations with Canadians, including representatives of non-governmental organizations, indigenous communities and youth. Rio +20 is a key opportunity for Canada to implement past commitments on sustainable development and restore its reputation as a responsible leader on the international stage.

Summary of Recommendations to the Canadian Federal Government

Participants’ recommendations for ways that government can facilitate and prioritise the transition to sustainable economies were gathered from each consultation and from the Earth Summit Dialogues. They were then clustered into six thematic groups: Energy; Green Cities; Sustainable Consumption and Production; Environmental Conservation; Water; and Humanitarian Issues and Social Justice. Download the full report here.

ENERGY

  • Phasing out the 1.38 billion dollars in subsidies given to the fossil fuel industry each year, and instead supporting the development of green industry is critical.
  • Reducing energy consumption by putting a price on carbon with the majority of respondents preferring the implementation of a phased-in carbon tax.
  • Diversifying Canada’s economy to decrease dependence on primary commodities, including crude derived from oil sands, which undermines the resilience of the economy and concentrates economic benefits in a few provinces while imposing costs on others.
  • Subsidizing research and development of renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar, through a national programme.

GREEN CITIES

  • Implementing smart urban planning and design to set the stage for a sustainable future, and to lead to significant reductions in energy use, resource consumption, and harmful emissions.
  • Establishing new regulations to ensure that future buildings incorporate energy and resource efficiency upgrades, as well as the creation of more green urban space.
  • Increasing low-carbon public transit systems which are efficiently planned, easily accessible, and affordable.

SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION

  • Assisting both producers and consumers by establishing an easily accessible system for the disposal of harmful products and by-products, in partnership with provincial and municipal governments.
  • The role of the federal government is key, as it sets the “rules of the game” at the national level through fiscal and regulatory instruments.
  • Supporting vibrant rural economies through educational programmes, training and apprenticeships.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

  • Protecting valuable natural resources in order to ensure clean air, healthy forests, less pollution and negative health impacts in cities, and the survival of essential insect species such as bees.
  • Creating and maintaining parks and conservation areas as places that promote persona, well-being and recreation, respect for natural resources, and respect for other species.
  • Incorporating into policy-making the scientifically recognized links between the conservation of natural areas and resilience in the face of climate change, ozone depletion and the critical extinction rate.
  • Conserving four geographic areas of particular concern: the Boreal forest, the Arctic Tundra, the Great Lakes and the oceans.

WATER

  • Protecting water resources both for biodiversity habitats and for the health of future generations of Canadians.
  • Promoting access to and preservation of adequate supplies of clean water, and acknowledging this as a fundamental human right, and a right for all other species.
  • Protecting and managing water resources by local government. The majority of participants disagreed with the privatization of water resources in general.

HUMANITARIAN ISSUES AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

  • Supporting increased equality within Canadian society, especially in terms of income, gender, and intergenerational equity.
  • Integrating economic, environmental, and social imperatives as foundational considerations into all government decision making activities.
  • Participating actively in international organizations and championing responsible, sustainable development both in Canada and abroad.
  • Ensuring Canadian trade is fair and advances the economic, environmental, and social well-being of other people and places around the world.