It’s 2019 and Canada is determined to keep its citizens trapped in their climate change comfort zones, slipping back into its well-worn shirt of denial just in time for this election. During a time that should be concerned with the state of our earth’s climate and what our country can do to combat it, one person’s blatant denial of fact was all it took for our government to revert to their old ways.
Elections Canada has declared that they will not be making a distinction between facts and opinions surrounding the topic of climate change during the 2019 election. Translation: any discussion about man-made climate change during the debates will be viewed as an opinion rather than fact.
On top of this, if groups spend more than $500 during the election period to promote concerns about climate change and potentially other science-based issues, they are being forced to register as a third-party organization. This restriction forces all environmentally minded campaigns through a heavily drawn-out, expensive process. Not only is this decision redundant, but it is a pointless and disappointing political dance around the real issue. It isn’t that Elections Canada is saying man-made climate change doesn’t exist, it’s that they’re choosing not to defend it.
Climate change should be placed in a neutral role when brought up in the election. Since the topic is generally agreed upon across the main parties, rather than disputing its position in the debate, the discussion revolves around plans of action or neglect. However, because of the position of a new, up-and-coming party, the existence of climate change has been called into question and made the issue entirely political. This has spurred Elections Canada’s decision to classify climate change and potentially other science-based debate topics are partisan.
One person was all it took
All it took was one person to throw off the balance: Maxime Bernier. Leader of the People’s Party of Canada, a far-right political party just over a year old, Bernier’s campaign is filled with anti-environment messaging. From promises to withdraw from the Paris Accord to an emphasis on growing Canada’s oil and gas industry, Bernier’s stance stands on nothing but his own ego.
Elections Canada’s decision to turn their back on vital fact in favour of one party’s campaign is more than disappointing. It serves as a window into our government’s relation to climate defense and whether we can trust that the information they present us is truly without bias. It is a battle that can be likened to a debate between scientists and a single anti-vaxxer; just because the facts are there doesn’t mean that everyone will choose to follow them. However, this is not a valid excuse for our government to turn their backs on crucial fact.
The reason behind the weak defense could be as simple as selfishness. Former Natural Resources and Finance Minister Joe Oliver, previously a member of Stephen Harper’s cabinet, has become a climate change soothsayer. Spreading the message that Canada will benefit from climate change in the end, he cites a recent report from Moody’s Analytics that sorts countries into winners and losers based on economic models. According to this study, there is a chance that with a longer growing season, Canada’s farmers could stand to come out on top while the Indian economy dramatically shrinks.
Of course, from his position on the board of High Arctic Energy Services (an oil drilling company, with investments reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars), there is additional padding to brace his flimsy stance. On further investigation, Bernier does not have to disclose the donors to his party but started his race with $350,000 from several locations. While I don’t doubt the sincerity behind both men’s platforms, I’d much rather have it from someone absent of bias that has caused this issue in the first place.
The irony that basic fact is being discounted because of one person’s biased opinion of climate change is entirely offensive. It is an affront to everything this election should be about. We cannot just sit back while our officials benefit off the detriment of warped information and pipe(line) dreams. Let’s keep this is mind when we go to the polls in October.