The motion was most heavily opposed in Western Canada and Ontario, and a majority of delegates voted it down.
In his well-delivered though short on actual details speech to the CPC convention, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole declared that “the debate is over” on climate change.
Today, Conservative delegates said otherwise.
54% of delegates voted down an attempt to add ‘climate change is real’ and Canada must be ‘willing to act’ on the issue to their official party policy book.
The motion also pushed for ‘highly-polluting businesses’ to take ‘more responsibility to cut emissions.’
Now, the motion was clearly something that was playing into the Liberal framing on the issue.
The Liberals have repeatedly said ‘climate change is real and we must be willing to act,’ and then pretended that somehow means the only option is to weaken the Canadian energy sector and impose a carbon tax that drives away jobs, pushes out investment, and makes everything more expensive.
So, the Conservative delegates were wise to avoid that Liberal framing and reject the change.
For O’Toole, this shows the issue of his rhetoric not lining up with where the party is. You can’t really say a ‘debate is over’ when the debate hasn’t happened in the party yet, and when many want to share their views.
Also, this isn’t some sort of binary choice.
The Conservative Party needs to think outside the box, rather than conceding to Liberal framing on every issue.
A motion that said ‘climate change is real,’ and ’empowering individuals, local governments and provinces, rather than imposing one-size-fits all federal taxes is the best way to address it,’ would almost certainly have been supported, while still maintaining a message that is cohesive with the small-government, individual freedom ideals of Canadian Conservatives.
CPC delegates did the right thing in rejecting Liberal-style framing of the climate change issue, and the party needs to come up with a way to address it that is consistent with their stated beliefs.
Photo – YouTube