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Dal student's website cuts through jargon to compare parties' eco-platforms

Dalhousie University student Isabelle Hurley  has developed a website called EnviroVote Canada that compares the environmental platforms of each of the parties for the 2019 federal election.
Dalhousie University student Isabelle Hurley has developed a website called EnviroVote Canada that compares the environmental platforms of each of the parties for the 2019 federal election. - Tim Krochak
HALIFAX, N.S. —

Isabelle Hurley knows that the climate crisis ranks high on voters’ minds as they prepare to cast ballots in the Oct. 21 federal election.

“When all the parties were releasing their environmental platforms, I found them confusing to understand the differences between the different parties, so I figured in my field of studies, that’s not a good sign,” said the 22-year-old master’s student in biology at Dalhousie University.

“I talked to my supervisor and together we put this website together to really easily compare the differences between the parties’ environmental policies. The idea is that instead of an interested voter having to open up multiple tasks on the computer and sift through those jargon-filled platforms, it’s all there for them. We’ve got a quick graphic.”

The idea is the EnviroVote Canada website, envirovote.ca. It lists 33 topics, including acknowledging we need to do something about climate change, plans to phase out oil and gas consumption, and intend to keep warming below 1.5 degrees. The site gives each of the four main parties — Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Greens — a checkmark if their party platform offers a plan to deal with the listed topic.

“We’re not trying to tell anybody who to vote for,” Hurley said. “The environment is just another political issue like the economy or health care that voters might be interested in understanding the differences between the different parties. We’re not saying you need to vote for the party that has the most checkmarks on our site.”

Still, Hurley, who said she became interested and engaged in climate change and the environment when she first viewed the Al Gore documentary An Inconvenient Truth in Grade 4, said it is obvious that the climate is becoming a major issue.

“You can kind of feel it in the air when you have 10,000 people marching for the climate strike in Halifax and many more cities across Canada,” Hurley said. “I think that Greta (Thunberg) and the UN announcement that we only have about 10 years to turn this ship around for climate change has really catalyzed a lot of interest in climate change and making sure that we elect a government that will champion the issue.”


Click the image to to explore more topics on EnviroVote Canada:

Screen grab from Hurley's website. Click to take you there.


It should come as little surprise that the Greens and the Conservatives occupy opposite ends of the spectrum of climate change checkmarks on the website.

“I would say that if we are talking about checkmarks, the Conservatives have the least number and the Greens have the most,” said Hurley, a native of Victoria who moved to Halifax to pursue her undergraduate marine biology degree at Dalhousie.

“I’ve noticed that in this election we are not having enough discussion about policy,” she said. “We are having discussions about political jabs or scandals. I think that the policy differences between the parties is getting lost in all of that. I hope that this website can make it easier for people who are interested.”

When platforms change, the checkmarks on the site can change. It takes a lot of volunteer time for Hurley to keep track but she said the website has been well received and she is applying for funding to hire researchers to assist  in combing through political party platforms in other countries. 

“The response we’ve had to this platform has been super positive and people want more of it.”

Hurley is studying future oceans under different climate change scenarios to complete her master’s degree in August. Now having dipped her toe into the world of politics, Hurley said she will entertain a career path change to something centred on the dual topics of politics and ocean changes.


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