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: 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

Bhagwan Mayer. (Photo submitted)
Organizer of transporting the World’s Largest Hockey Stick to Cowichan remembered

Bhagwan Mayer a “hard-working fellow who cared about his community.”

Paula Foot narrates a collection of stories to appeal to the imaginations of the young and young at heart with a new album​ ‘Moments with Miss Paula: Stories for Fall and Winter’. (Submitted)
New album of stories from Cowichan storyteller offers children a world of magic

The stories will appeal to six-, seven-, and eight-year-olds

The VIJHL's Kerry Park Islanders' games have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Isles victorious before league shutdown

The Kerry Park Islanders were able to sneak in one last game… Continue reading

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Oliver Finlayson, 9, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hydrotherapy is a big help

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Most Read