Members of the Conservative Party have recently voted down a proposal to recognize climate change as real over the weekend. The decision comes as a blow to the new party leader’s efforts to embrace environmentally-friendly policies ahead of a likely federal election this year.
The rejected motion included the willingness to act against climate risks and to make highly polluting Canadian businesses take more responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole had urged party members to rally around an ambitious climate agenda to avoid a defeat at the hands of Liberals.
O’Toole asked members to be open to new ideas if they were serious about winning in the next federal election, even if that goes against the party’s conventional thinking. He also said he doesn’t want Conservative candidates to be branded as “climate change deniers.”
Yet, the Conservative delegates rejected the policy shift by 54 to 46 per cent.
“I’m the leader, I’m in charge,” said O’Toole later in a press conference on Tuesday. He dismissed the party’s decision and told voters they should instead focus on what he’s saying as party leader.
Climate change was a polarizing issue in last election’s campaigns. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stresses that the environment is a priority, Canada has failed to meet any of its climate pledges amid resistance from politicians who say the targets threaten the oil industry’s future.
Canada is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer and one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis. Trudeau’s Liberal Party supporters rank it among their top concerns.
Though, there was a recent shift in the dynamics of world politics. U.S. President Joe Biden’s aggressive climate policies are expected to galvanize Canada to march in step with Washington’s tough measures to avoid being disadvantaged.
– With files from REUTERS