Even as Canadian environmentalists and social justice advocates celebrated Monday’s electoral ouster of right-wing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, they vowed to push Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau and his new ruling government on key campaign issues such as austerity, trade, and fossil fuel extraction.

Over 68 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Monday’s national election, according to Elections Canada, marking the highest turnout in two decades and signaling a sharp rejection of Harper’s Conservative rule. Notably, there appears to have been a large voter turnout from First Nation communities, with several polling stations in those communities running out of ballots. 

But though Trudeau’s sweeping win was, as he declared in his victory speech, a repudiation of “negative, divisive politics” in favor of “a positive vision that brings Canadians together,” the new prime minister and his majority government still have much to prove.

“While we welcome Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau’s election night speech that focused on hope, inclusion and the end of the politics of division and fear evident under the Harper government, we are deeply concerned by his party’s support for ‘free trade’ agreements like the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),” wrote Brent Patterson of the Council of Canadians on Tuesday.

“And with about 40 days until the critical United Nations COP 21 climate talks begin in Paris,” he added, “the Liberals have only pledged ‘real climate change solutions’ rather than more concretely an end to export pipelines and no new approvals for the tar sands.”

Joanna Kerr, executive director of Greenpeace Canada, urged (pdf) the Liberal government to seize the “unprecedented opportunity to reject boom and bust polluting industries by stopping tar sands expansion and making Canada a leader in renewable energies.”

“It’s now time to say yes to a brighter future and farewell to politics of fear and environmental degradation,” Kerr added.

To that end, climate justice activists from across the country are planning an action for November 5-8, during which they will welcome the incoming prime minister to his new residence in Ottawa by presenting gifts that “tell a story of people power growing and demanding real climate action and a new, clean energy economy in Canada.”

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