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

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

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

(Black Press file photo)
Charges laid against two suspects in pre-Christmas home invasion

An 88-year-old woman was hospitalized after being bear-sprayed in the face Dec. 18, 2020

Liam and Tyler Spaans, (L-R), are two of the current lifeguards at the Houston Leisure Facility. (Houston Leisure Services file photo)
Leisure facility anticipates need for lifeguards

Has been challenged in the past

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read