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Fires Burn Canada: When Will Poilievre Learn and Form a Climate Plan?

(Poilievre in Parliament holding George Orwell’s 1989)

Unfortunately for Poilievre, his antics on climate policy have completely fallen flat following the historic wildfires Canada is facing this season. While the Liberals are issuing emergency resources toward quelling the fires in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and Nova Scotia; the Conservatives are still heaping on “axing the carbon tax” and building oil pipelines across a myriad of provinces. As for how Poilievre is going to convince either Quebec or British Columbia in building a pipeline is yet to be seen, but more importantly, the debate over Canada’s carbon tax may finally be drawing to a close. After years of debacle against the tax from previous Conservative leaders like Scheer and O’Toole, Poilevre is only continuing the anti-carbon tax rhetoric that his predecessors adopted out of political convenience. 

While the argument for repealing the carbon tax can be summed to be an attempt to save taxpayers money and promote GDP growth. Such economic-based arguments have fallen to the blazes of wildfires and exuberant smoke spreading across the continent. In terms of the climate debate, 2023 will be the year the Liberals will cite in the next election as a crucial turning point for natural disasters. In 2023 alone, the Atlantic provinces experienced one of the worst hurricane and flooding disasters in years and the rest of Canada experienced blistering high temperatures for the summer season. With a lethal pandemic, turbulent hurricanes, and scorching wildfires, mother nature is giving us a grim reminder of what the future will hold for our children.

Forget about attacking the Liberals, will Poilievre attack mother nature for natural disasters? Or will he, at last, propose an actual plan to Canadians on how he’s going to lower our emissions to net zero? Notwithstanding emission targets, at least the Liberals have invested 10s of billions in the green-economy transition, are on track to protecting 30% of Canada's lands, and are expected to reduce Canada's total emissions sometime by 40% by 2030. The Liberals have real policies and goals in mind, whereas the Conservatives have nothing to show off.

Just as the Conservatives were getting comfortable with promoting the removal of the carbon tax due to the real issue of inflation. The environment can easily come up as an equal issue in an election as we’re seeing now. When people are breathing and smelling smoke pollutants in the air around them, there is a real health and psychological risk to people’s quality of life. If there’s anything that’ll reduce the quality of life for Canadians, it’s definitely not the carbon tax.

What Poilievre and the Conservatives don’t understand is that the only thing worse than the government levying a carbon tax is being the opposition party with no plan at all for climate change. As long as Poilievre doesn’t have a credible plan, then the Liberals will attack and dismiss the Conservatives as a party that fundamentally denies climate change. The ruling for Poilievre? Get serious about climate change if you hope to get votes from the voters and provinces most affected.

But to say the Conservative war isn’t aware of the real dangers of climate change in the future would be foolish to say. These people are some of the most intelligent people in the country and the only thing they’re interested in is getting votes to get into office. If climate change becomes unignorable, then the Conservatives will hush out a plan if needed. In fact, Conservative insiders are probably already working on such a platform right now, it’s a matter of balancing it with oil/gas lobby interests, the Conservative voter base that genuinely doesn’t believe climate change is a big issue, and the rest of the progressive voting bloc who're genuinely fearful of climate change.

But if the Conservatives hope to give the Liberals a challenge in the climate change debate. Their plan better be good and at least comparable to the Liberals. If the Conservative plan ends up being an oil lobbyist-sponsored dud, then the Liberals will once again win the 5-way climate change debate and potentially the next election. Even worse for Poilievre though, even if his climate plan comes out; can the Conservatives restore their public image as a pro-environment party? Will any Liberal, NDP, or Bloc voter seriously consider the Conservatives as a viable alternative willing to protect Canada’s lands and lead the charge toward a net-zero future? Probably not. Most of Canada’s progressive bloc of voters will always choose the Liberals strategically than vote Conservative. And unless some sort of housing crisis tramples the climate crisis in Canada’s political discourse, the Liberals have the climate change debate in the bag.

A deadly virus came and now fires burn, and although Canadians have learned from these disasters, will Poilievre learn? 

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