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

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

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Kenney to announce plan for truckers to get COVID-19 vaccinations in nearby states

Alberta is approaching 25,000 active cases of COVID-19, and there are more than 600 people in hospital with the illness

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw asked Albertans to limit travel throughout the province as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears 900 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports additional 2,211 COVID-19 cases

swim
Stay safe this summer – don’t overlook swimming lessons

National Summer Safety Week runs May 1st – 7th

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Big truck semi trailer moves on the highway towards sunset
Alberta’s cross-border truckers to be vaccinated at Montana rest stop

2,000 Alberta truck drivers who transport goods across the border will be able to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Montana

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

Two passengers were recently fined thousands of dollars after they faked their pre-flight COVID-19 test results. (Paul Clarke/Black Press)
2 passengers in Canada fined thousands for faking pre-flight COVID-19 tests

The government issued a warning Thursday to others thinking of doing the same – do it and you’ll be ordered to pay

A wild rabbit grazes in Nanaimo, B.C. in this Feb.2, 2018 photo. Rabbit owners in Alberta are being warned about a deadly virus that was identified in a southern Alberta household last month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner
‘Like a flash fire:’ Rabbit owners warned about outbreak of deadly disease in Alberta

The disease is confined to rabbits and cannot spread to humans

Most Read