Prime Minister Justin Trudeau celebrates a Liberal Party win on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. (The Canadian Press)

‘Inconsistent’ message on climate change hurt Liberals at the polls: prof

Trudeau government will have to make concessions to hold onto power

Climate proved to be a critical issue in Monday’s election, even if the winning Liberals’ compromise didn’t score them many votes on either side of the issue.

Prior to the election, climate was polling as the No. 1 issue among voters but a Simon Fraser University professor said Justin Trudeau tried to play both sides, and lost.

“They tried to provide what they would view as a compromise; trying to build a pipeline and at the same time doing their carbon tax,” said Tom Gunton of SFU’s Resource and Environmental Planning Program.

But their “inconsistent message” didn’t sit well with those worried for the climate, Gunton said.

“It was very difficult for them to portray themselves as deffenders of the climate, while at the same time people would just point out ‘well, you just bought an oil pipeline.’”

That flip-flopping message didn’t help them get the Prairies either, he pointed out, as the Liberals were completely shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The Liberals hung onto 157 of their 184 seats, but were downgraded to a minority government, while the Conservatives jumped from 99 seats to 121 and actually won the popular vote.

But while the Prairies were an obvious loss for the carbon tax touting party, they also lost seats to the east.

“Opposition to pipelines is high in Quebec,” Gunton said, where the Bloc Québécois jumped to 32 seats from just 10.

“That was a liability for the Liberals.”

READ MORE: Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?

But the Liberals weren’t the only ones to try and play the middle when it came to climate change.

The Conservatives, Gunton said, tried to keep Alberta and Saskatchewan happy with support for pipelines, but lost in places like Ontario and Quebec.

Gunton said the results of the elections paint a divided picture of Canada, with the Prairies and B.C.’s interior painted Tory blue, while more climate change focused parties scooped up the rest of the country.

The NDP, who nearly halved their ridings down to 24 this election, could play a more significant role than their seat count suggests.

“The continuation of this government will depend on the support of the smaller opposition parties; the NDP and the Greens,” Gunton said. Added together, Liberals, the NDP and the Greens have 184 seats – a significant majority.

“There will certainly be some concessions.”

In the news: Liberals eke out a win, but will need NDP, Green support to pass bills

As to if the Trans Mountain pipeline will be one of them, Gunton said it’s hard to tell if it’s politics or economics that will hold it back the most.

“The costs of building it has doubled,” Gunton said. “There’s an economic problem Trans Mountain faces.

“You add to that the political dimension, as the Liberal government does not have a majority and the parties it depends on for support are clearly opposed to Trans Mountain.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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

Wetaskiwin/ Camrose RCMP conduct a joint forces initiative with Camrose Police Service

The multifaceted joint forces initiative with on Sept. 23, 2020 proved very successful.

Wetaskiwin RCMP conduct water rescue at coal lake

One person was rescued from the water following his boat capsizing.

City of Wetaskiwin down to one active COVID-19 case

City of Wetaskiwin has one active case, County of Wetaskiwin at zero cases.

Central zone has 20 active cases of COVID-19

Province identified 143 new cases across Alberta on Wednesday

Black and Indigenous Alliance at Wetaskiwin City Hall

The Alliance gathered Saturday for a peaceful protest on City Hall grounds.

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

First annual Best of Wetaskiwin Readers’ Choice Awards

Enter to win a $200 gift card for Canadian Tire.

Alberta politicians reject throne speech

Premier Kenney disapointed with lack of support for Alberta energy

STAR Catholic getting $1.5 M in federal funding

Funding part of $2 billion promised to provinces for safe return to school

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

Searchers find bodies in Jasper National Park, remains believed to be missing couple

RCMP along with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner continue to investigate

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Most Read