Will AOC’s Green New Deal become an election issue in Canada?

Naomi Klein and the Leap are looking to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposed stimulus program as Canadians prepare to go to the polls

Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis want to get Canadians thinking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal ahead of Canada’s federal election this fall.

The activist couple has teamed with the New York congressional rep on an illustrated short film that imagines a sustainable and equitable future.

A Message From The Future is set in a not-so distant future in an America where a bullet train runs from New York City to DC, fossil fuels have been replaced by renewable energy and former oil workers are now working to restoring the wetlands in places like coastal Louisiana. As Ocasio-Cortez points out in her narration, all of this would be possible under the Green New Deal, her proposed 10-year plan to fight climate change and address economic inequality.

Illustrated by artist Molly Crabapple and co-written and produced by Lewis, the film explains the core principles of the Green New Deal, which include creating millions of high-wage jobs within the renewable energy sector, building a national smart grid and upgrading every building in the country to be energy efficient. It also delves into the history of climate change research and how large corporations like Exxon have actively suppressed scientific findings via aggressive lobbying.

It also highlights what Klein is doing here in Canada with The Leap Manifesto, an ambitious political road map that calls for an end to pipeline development, a universal basic income and cuts to military spending, among other things.

Along with the Leap, the environmental organization pushing the manifesto, Klein and Lewis are working to bring a similar Green New Deal to Canada. The Leap Manifesto, which Klein has described is “our people’s version of a Green New Deal,” was a major issue in the 2016 NDP federal convention, but fizzled within the party by the time of the next convention in 2018. As Klein said in an interview with NOW in 2017, “It’s clear powerful people in the NDP were very frightened by the idea of being in conflict with the [Rachel] Notley government so they wanted the Leap to go away, but the issues we represent aren’t going anywhere.”

Although they’re still in the early stages, the Leap wants the Green New Deal to become a political issue in the months leading up to the federal election. They’ve worked with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to create a plan that uses the same principles, such as installing solar panels on the rooftops of post offices, adding a fleet of electric vehicles and delivering more than just mail like locally grown produce. 

As the Green New Deal is debated, Klein writes in an article for the Intercept that the biggest obstacle to transformative change is people’s skepticism that humanity could ever pull something like this off. But as she counters, “What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves?”

Since her landmark victory last fall – chronicled in the Netflix film Knock Down The House – Ocasio-Cortez has championed progressive programs like Green New Deal and Medicare For All, and subsequently become a daily obsession for right-wing news outlets like Fox News.


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