The Leap Manifesto: A Vision for Canada’s Future

by Ray Grigg

The Chinese character for “crisis” is made up of two components: “danger” and “opportunity”. Perhaps this single character best represents the mood in Canada these days. Although we continue to live in remarkable security and comfort, we are nonetheless haunted by deep, disquieting and unresolved issues concerning politics, economics, health care, social justice and environmental threats. So, reasoned the writers of The Leap Manifesto, an election campaign is the perfect time to propose a vision that attempts to solve all these critical problems.

Initiated by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein, written in collaboration with many distinguished Canadians, and endorsed by numerous academics, scientists, celebrities, writers and philosophers, The Leap Manifesto is a non-partisan document that addresses a fundamental discontent festering in the Canadian collective psyche. “People want to be inspired by what this country could become,” says Lewis. “There is a spiritual malaise at the heart of the consumer society” that yearns to be addressed. “Climate change is an existential crisis,” adds Klein. “Many people are feeling this.” What are we to do?

“Small steps will no longer get us where we want to go,” declares the Manifesto. “So we need to leap.” In general terms, the Manifesto proposes a new vision of Canada by restructuring society, renovating the economy and decentralizing energy sources. This would simultaneously solve the climate crisis and create a country that is more humane, compassionate, caring, just, sustainable, efficient and prosperous. And, best of all, studies show that we have the capability to do this if we so choose.

The Manifesto begins by declaring that, in the interests of social justice, we must respect “the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land.” It then goes on to its other visions.

Research shows that Canada could get 100% of its electricity from renewable resources within two decades, and by 2050 be a 100% clean economy. This would entail a universal program to build energy efficient homes, to end fossil fuel subsidies, and to institute a progressive carbon tax based on a polluter-pay principle.

All studies show that this clean energy economy would employ many more people while providing improved economic and social stability. The transition would be aided by training and other resources.

The Manifesto calls for investments in our decaying public infrastructure, a move to a more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system, tighter regulations on corporations, an end to all trade deals that interfere with our attempts to rebuild local economies, a stop to damaging extractive projects, and an expansion of those low-carbon sectors of the economy such as caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts, and public-interest media. High-speed rail and affordable public transit powered by ethical renewables could save energy and time while uniting communities.

The Manifesto also envisions a universal basic annual income, and electoral reform so that every vote counts.

This is an ambitious and refreshing vision for Canada, a country that is slowly sinking into despair as it grapples with complexities and conflicting incremental reforms that no longer seem to capture our collective imagination. The Leap Manifesto is bold, positive and — best of all — possible.

Note: the past two columns omitted from the Mirror can be found on