Opinion: Climate change is real and federal Conservatives do not disagree

Mar 23 2021, 10:16 am

Only three days into a warm 2021 spring and already my phone has been buzzing with frantic texts from friends. Not because they are scurrying to make patio drink plans though. The reason? Climate change.

This week saw a barrage of false accusations and hit jobs in the media bombard the Federal Conservative Party of Canada. Fifty-four per cent of voting delegates at the party’s virtual weekend convention voted against a climate change motion. Since then, the topic has become more active than ever on traditional and social media platforms. People of all political stripes have come out in swaths to express their disapproval.

A text from my own phone this past morning read, “Are the Conservatives serious? Denying climate change in 2021? What am I missing?”

Honestly? A lot.

Yes the “climate change is real” proposal was denied, but not because Conservatives are living under a rock and don’t accept that fact.

It was rejected by many delegates because it had a lot more in it than just a few simple words. References to specific emitters being responsible and accountable for lowering emissions was in it too. I’m not suggesting this is a bad thing, but for some it suggested certain industries like farming could be negatively impacted at a time when hardship is already paramount due to the pandemic.

Despite this, party leader Erin O’Toole has made it very clear that not only is climate change real, but it will be addressed through comprehensive policy by his party. O’Toole made statements like “our party cannot ignore the reality of climate change,” and that the debate on the subject “is over.”

Despite folks rejecting this one convoluted proposal, the party’s official policy document already very clearly acknowledges the reality of climate change. In one section it states, “in order to have a strong economy and maintain good health, Canada must have strong, coordinated and achievable environmental policies.”

Does that sound like a party who doesn’t believe in climate change?

O’Toole is well aware that his party needs to win seats in ridings around Toronto and Vancouver. This is a nearly impossible task to accomplish without having bold environmental policy that resonates with large metropolitan cities.

A rejection of specific wording is not going to stop real policy from being made.

We should not use one proposal rejection to paint with such a broad brush. More than words Canadians need action on climate change. They need tangible policy that proves to be effective. The O’Toole leadership has made its intentions on the topic clear – the party will absolutely tackle this issue.

In the meanwhile, we all need to sit tight and await the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on the constitutionality of the Liberal government’s carbon tax on Thursday. They have been reviewing the case for and against the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax since 2020.

The carbon tax is currently $30 per tonne (seven cents per litre of gas) and scheduled to rise to $130 per tonne (30 cents per litre) by 2030.

This is the cornerstone of the Trudeau climate policy plan. The goal to reduce emissions is noble, but the reality is that the Liberal climate plan will impact hard-working, middle class Canadians the most.

Imagine having to dig deeper into your pockets to be able to heat your home during a pandemic that’s already stretched you financially thin. We must address climate change, but not on the backs of hard-working Canadians.

Once a final decision is made climate policy for either party is going to look different and will require devoted attention. Regardless of political stripe, we are a far distance from where we need to be on climate change in Canada as a whole. I am optimistic and will be waiting to see how all parties try to close the gap.

Vonny SweetlandVonny Sweetland

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