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: SFU prof

Trudeau government will have to make concessions to hold onto power

The environment proved to be a critical issue in Monday’s election, and the Liberals’ compromise didn’t score them many votes on either side of the issue.

Climate change was polling as the No. 1 issue among voters prior to Oct. 21 vote, but one Simon Fraser University professor said Prime Minister 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 defenders of the climate, while at the same time people would just point out ‘Well, you just bought an oil pipeline.’”

It especially didn’t help them in the Prairies, he pointed out, as they were completely shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and suffered losses in Quebec, where the Bloc Québécois jumped to 32 seats from just 10.

“Opposition to pipelines is high in Quebec,” Gunton said. “That was a liability for the Liberals.”

Overall, Trudeau hung onto 157 of 184 seats, but was downgraded to a minority government, while Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives jumped from 99 seats to 121 and actually won the popular vote.

The Liberals tried play the middle when it came to climate change, while other parties had a clearer goal.

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

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

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

The NDP, which nearly halved their ridings to just 24 this election, could play a more significant role than their seat count suggests, he added, because of the minority result. Together, the Liberals, NDP and Greens have 184 seats – a significant majority.

“There will certainly be some concessions.”

As for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Gunton said it’s hard to tell if politics or economics will hold it back the most.

“The costs of building it has doubled,” he said. “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.”

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


@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

Kicking Horse conditions update, Thursday February 27

Kicking Horse reports 1 cm of new snow in the last 24… Continue reading

Golden highway update, Thursday February 27

DriveBC reports slippery sections between Beaverfoot Rd and Field, just east of… Continue reading

Interior Health leading the way with innovative therapy for stroke patients

Percentage of ischemic stroke patients who received treatment has risen dramatically

Kicking Horse conditions update, Wednesday February 26

Kicking Horse reports no new snow in the last 24 hours. Light… Continue reading

Golden Highway Update, Wednesday February 26

On Highway 1 just east of Golden, anticipate minor delays due to… Continue reading

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

UPDATE: Boy, 5, will donate organs after crash that killed father, son on B.C. highway

Mike Cochlin and sons Liam and Quinn were travelling on Highway 5A

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to meet today with federal and B.C. governments

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Chinatowns across Canada report drop in business due to new coronavirus fears

Around the world, about 81,000 people have become ill with the virus

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Most Read