Liberals push Tories to show climate-policy hand with climate-change motion

Both parties are pushing motions this week to declare climate change a national emergency

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, Thursday, May 9, 2019 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

In a battle to see can prove they care more about the environment, both the Liberals and the federal New Democrats are pushing motions this week to declare climate change a national emergency.

With the flooding waters of the Ottawa River at the base of Parliament Hill as a backdrop, the competing motions both appeared on the House of Commons notice paper Monday. Both come a week after the Green Party won a byelection in British Columbia, which even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took as voters signalling growing concern with climate change.

The Liberal motion, which is to be debated Thursday, asks MPs to recommit to the Paris climate-change accord by meeting the existing targets for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions and toughening them as is required to meet the accord’s stated objective of keeping global warming as close to 1.5 C as possible.

The NDP motion, which is to be debated first on Wednesday, also seeks to hit those targets and calls for the government to bail on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and end fossil-fuel subsidies. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says pipelines and fossil-fuel subsidies are not congruent with climate-change action.

David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, said the motions are an indication the parties acknowledge public concern about climate change has sharpened, particularly this spring as parts of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick have dealt with once-a-century floods for the second time in two or three years.

READ MORE: B.C. youth continue to strike for climate justice

“We are seeing a rise in the intensity of concern,” said Coletto.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was not hiding the strategy behind the Liberal motion: pushing the Conservatives to declare their support for the Paris agreement targets or tip their hand on leader Andrew Scheer’s yet-unreleased climate-change plan by voting against them.

“I think it’s really important to have this debate and I’m really interested in seeing what other parties will say, in particular the Conservative party,” McKenna said Tuesday. “We’ve seen Andrew Scheer (have) no climate plan for over a year, and having secret meetings with oil lobbyists. I assume that’s how they’re going to develop their climate plan.”

Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions targets now are the same as the ones the former Conservative government brought forward in 2015, six months before the last election, but Scheer has been less than certain about meeting them in recent months. He told CTV’s Question Period Sunday the Conservative plan — expected next month — will “give Canada the best possible shot” at meeting its targets without a carbon tax.

The Liberals have brought climate-change motions at least twice before. The Conservatives voted en masse against supporting the Paris Agreement in October 2016, but eight months later, all but one Conservative MP voted in favour of reiterating Canada’s support for the agreement after the United States signalled it was going to pull out of it.

Scientists say the planet has already warmed up about 1 C compared to the pre-industrial era, and without drastic action by governments around the world to curb emissions, the earth is going to blow past the 1.5 C mark by 2040. An Environment Canada report released in April shows Canada is warming up twice as fast as the global average.

The United Nations last fall said countries like Canada needed to cut emissions a lot more than currently planned to achieve the 1.5 C goal.

The Liberals are unlikely to support the NDP motion because of the pipeline component. Finance Minister Bill Morneau confirmed Tuesday in the Senate that cabinet will make its decision on June 18 whether to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion a second time.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Alberni teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

VIDEO: Missing Alberni teens now suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Vancouver Island town facing unprecedented fine for failure to deal with its wastewater

Cumberland moves to get legal advice and appeal penalties of more than $85,000

Horgan hints at daylight saving changes after record-breaking survey response

B.C.’s largest public consultation saw more than 220,000 residents respond to time change survey

Jurors talk about trial of U.S. man convicted in 1987 murders of Saanich couple

Three jurors offer a window into deliberations during the trial

Northern B.C. double homicide, suspicious death: A timeline of what we know

Two teens from Port Alberni are now wanted Canada-wide in connection to the three deaths

B.C. wine industry legend Harry McWatters dies

Among his accomplishments, McWatters founded the province’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge Estate

Provincial health body refuses to release full findings of cancer triage system audit

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions

Southern resident killer whale died of blunt trauma, likely from ship

J34 was found more than two years ago near Sechelt, but the necropsy findings have now been released

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

Vancouver Island man wanted after walking away from halfway house in Victoria

Warrant issued for Jesse Goodale, convicted of aggravated assault

Vancouver Island author in the running for national fiction award

Diana Stevan’s historical novel Sunflowers Under Fire a finalist for Whistler Independent Book Award

Most Read