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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Short bench for tournament host Queens

Rebuiling year sees club wind up seventh

Town selling the airport to Ponoka Flying Club

Agreement is for 25 years with option to buy back

RCMP on hunt for man who has skipped court

Public urged to call 911 if they spot him

Update: Local bull riders help Canada to fourth at PBR Global Cup

Lambert, Hansen manage to earn two of Canadian team’s good rides

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, calls for end to blockades

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

Portrait of the Coastal GasLink, a pipeline to divide a nation

In mid-February, 46 per cent of the pipeline route had been cleared

Alberta ends master agreement with doctors, new rules to be in place April 1

The current master agreement with physicians ends March 31

Alberta rail conductor fired for social media posts awarded money, but not reinstatement

Arbitrator Richard Hornung says that he agreed with the Teamsters union

Kids exposed to household cleaners as newborns more likely to get asthma: study

Air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, antimicrobial hand sanitizers and oven cleaners were the worst culprits

Burger King breaks the mould with new advertising campaign

The company is known for irreverent ad campaigns

PHOTOS: RCMP call on kids to name latest police puppy recruits

This year’s theme is the letter ‘N,’ and 13 German shephards must be named

Federal minister pledges to meet Wet’suwet’en chiefs in B.C. over natural gas pipeline

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say they are visiting Mohawk territory

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

Most Read