Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Conservative Party of Canada won't recognize climate change crisis

Erin O'Toole

The Conservative Party of Canada (no longer "Progressive" Conservative) is moving in a dangerous direction - further to the right.  It has the same problem as the Republican Party in the United States States.  Its rank and file are on the wrong side of history with regard to climate change.  The climate crisis is very real and can't be ignored.  It is linked to the current COVID-19 pandemic.  The two are intertwined.  

This weekend, Conservative delegates at the party's political convention voted to give thumbs down to environmentally friendly policies,.  They rejected the line to the party's policy book that would have affirmed the Conservative Party' belief that "climate change is real" and that it is willing to act."  This is extremely unfortunate and disheartening because if the Conservatives form the government they will have to deal with Canada's response to the most serious problem facing humanity.  If they assume power, they can be expected to relax environmental standards.

Yes, Conservative leader Erin O'Toole stressed that the party can't afford to be seen as hostile toward the environment.  He pledged to put forth a comprehensive plan for combatting green house gases before the next election.  (For the record, O'Toole is opposed to the carbon tax on consumers and says he will remove it if he becomes prime minister.  He supports a carbon-price to penalize big polluters for emissions.  For taking that position, he was mocked by Peter MacKay, his main opponent for the Conservative leadership).

Nevertheless, there are two major problems with O'Toole's position on climate change,  Firstly, we don't know how comprehensive O'Toole's plan would actually be in reducing carbon emissions.  O'Toole is willing to talk the talk, unlike some Tories, but is he willing to walk the walk?   Is he more worried about how the party will  appear to environmentally concerned voters than he is about decreasing green house gasses?  If  Conservatives come to power in Ottawa, could he not turn around and say that the country is too deeply in debt after COVID  to afford strong environmental measures? Secondly, even if O'Toole were to come up with an effective plan, how successful would he be in implementing it?  After all, the grass roots of the party are opposed to even the appearance of concern about climate change.  If O'Toole tried to implement any significant legislation with regard to the environment, they would pressure him to water it down.

As long as the Conservative Party's base refuses to recognize the gravity of climate change, the party is stuck in a time warp.  It cannot move forward to face the most critical challenge of the 21st century.  

- Joanne