Online watchdog keeping tabs on federal environmental promises

There is a new online watchdog keeping track of the environmental promises of the federal Liberal minority government.

EnviroVote Canada lists summaries of the key promises on the environment. It adds a check mark next to fulfilled promises and an X next to unaccomplished promises.

"This isn't a partisan website, our sources are their platforms," said Isabelle Hurley, a master's student in Dalhousie University's biology department. She is one of three people behind the website.

"So I do personally hope they follow through on these environmental promises but the goal of the website is just to keep voters engaged and informed."

Hurley said she developed EnviroVote in September along with Dalhousie professor Derek Tittensor and U.S.-based climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

When it began, it compared the environmental policies of the different federal parties.

The page changed to an accountability platform on Dec. 5 and will be updated every week the government is in office.

"I'm hoping that the public can see what the Liberals promised they would do," Hurley said.

It lists 20 promises on the environment. So far, Justin Trudeau's government only has one check mark for committing "to maintaining federal carbon pricing in provinces and territories that have not put in place their own carbon pricing system."

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Hurley points out it's still early days for the new government.

"Hopefully, over time, we'll see lots of check marks there," she said.

"They made quite a few commitments during the election campaign and so I'm hoping that this can be a useful platform for citizens to know what they can expect from the government."

A poll commissioned by CBC News showed Canadians are deeply concerned about climate change.

"Climate change is one of their top priority issues they wanted to address, so for me it's really hopeful to see there are this many commitments that they want to achieve," she said.

Hurley said she hopes the public will hold MPs accountable to their election promises and keep them informed on climate change for any upcoming elections.

EnviroVote Canada

Since going live, Hurley said she's received much positive feedback for the site, but nothing from the Liberal government. She said she's heard back from three other parties and said they were "enthusiastic" about the site.

Each week, she said EnviroVote will post one policy promise to its Twitter and Instagram feeds and note whether the government has fulfilled that promise.

There are no plans to launch other sites looking at other federal departments, but Hurley said others are free to use the idea.

She said she is in the process of building other environmental platforms for different countries, including the U.S., for its upcoming election.

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