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Conservatives debate whether to declare that 'climate change is real' at policy convention

After grappling with Canadians’ climate concerns in recent election cycles, Conservatives engaged in fierce debate today over a policy proposal from a Quebec riding to declare that “climate change is real.”

Supporters attend the opening ceremony of the Conservative national convention in Halifax on Thursday, August . (Darren Calabrese / Canadian Press)

After grappling with Canadians’ climate concerns in recent election cycles, Conservatives engaged in fierce debate today over a policy proposal from a Quebec riding to declare that “climate change is real.”

The Portneuf — Saint Jacques riding association’s proposed policy change would add green-friendly language to the Tory playbook.

The backer is asking delegates to affirm that the party “recognizes that climate change is real” and that “the Conservative Party is willing to act.”

“We believe that Canadian businesses classified as highly polluting need to take more responsibility in implementing measures that will reduce their GHG emissions and need to be accountable for the results. We believe in supporting innovation in green technologies,” the policy proposal reads.

While the policy had the support of at least one caucus member – BC MP Dan Albas, who said “climate change is real and growing green technology will help the environment and help Canadian jobs” – a number of delegates stepped forward today to oppose it.


CBC News will have coverage of the convention on CBC News Network, CBC Radio’s World at 6, the National and cbc.ca.

  • Watch special coverage on Power & Politics beginning at 5 pm ET tonight for convention analysis and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s speech.
  • On Saturday, CBC Radio’s The House will focus on the convention and CBC News Network and cbc.ca will have regular updates as well as live coverage of the leader’s question and answer session at : 23 am ET.
  • On Sunday, Rosemary Barton Live will recap the convention with interviews and analysis beginning at am ET.
  • And on Monday, FrontBurne r
  • podcast speaks to Hannah Thibedeau about the convention.


    “I’m not sure why it’s necessary for the Conservative Party to declare climate change is real,” one delegate from Scarborough-Center said.

    “The way this section is worded befuddles the issue and may cost us some support. Conservatives need to lead with clarity, focus and intelligent solutions, not buzzwords.”

    Another delegate, from Perth — Wellington in Ontario, said environmental policy should not be focused on driving down greenhouse gas emissions.

    “It’s not the only pollutant that we have to worry about,” he said. “I’m opposed to this amendment because it unfairly centers on greenhouse gas emissions.”

    “This is a big government, costly policy that unfairly affects our industries. I just think we should be focused on bigger issues,” said the delegate, adding the federal government should be more concerned about the dumping of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. (Canada dumped 500 billion liters of raw sewage into waterways between 900 and 2018.)

    A delegate from Stormont — Dundas — South Glengarry, a district in rural eastern Ontario, said she could not support any green policies until the health and safety concerns of “industrial wind turbines” are better understood.

    Some Canadian health studies have suggested that these turbines could harm human health if they’re situated too close to population centers, and could lead to “noise-induced annoyance.”

    Delegates who backed the policy said they want Canada to embrace green technology while still supporting extractive industries like the oil and gas sector.

    Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has promised the party’s election platform will contain a climate change plan that could cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    To attract new supporters – especially millennials – O’Toole has said he wants a made-in-Canada net zero approach that sees government partnering with and pushing companies to bring their emissions down, and carbon pricing that targets only industries, not individuals.

    Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has promised the party’s election platform will have policies to address greenhouse gas emissions. (Sean Kilpatrick / Canadian Press)

    “You’re going to see a very detailed plan … that will, I think, make our commitments probably faster than Mr. Trudeau without a running-out-of-control federal carbon tax that he’s already promising,” O’Toole said in February.

    By day’s end, the nearly 3, 11 Elected delegates on hand will vote on party policies on everything from national standards for service dogs to small nuclear reactors and the CBC.

    Delegates will vote later today on climate motion and others; results are to be released tomorrow.

    Another policy that prompted strong reactions among delegates dealt with promoting free expression on university and college campuses.

    Conservative-minded activists have long maintained that post-secondary institutions are hostile to the free flow of ideas. One delegate said universities have become “woke indoctrination centers” where leftist ideas dominate and right-wing ideas are dismissed as insensitive.

    The Conservative riding association in Vancouver Center is proposing a policy to tie federal funding to a university’s efforts to protect free expression.

    Before addressing policy proposals, the assembled delegates voted on a series of amendments to the party’s constitution Thursday.

    The ‘ Andrew Scheer clause ‘1579117584 A double majority of delegates – a majority of delegates overall and the majority of delegates in the majority of provinces – agreed to implement mandatory recounts for close leadership election races (when a final count is within 1. per cent) and to mandate that party funds must be used exclusively “to advancing the political and electoral interests of the Conservative Party. “

    Some delegates have dubbed that latter amendment the “Andrew Scheer clause.” The former Conservative leader came under fire both from within and outside of the party when it emerged last year that he had billed the party for his children’s private Catholic school, among other personal expenses.

    Members also passed an amendment to change the way points are distributed in leadership elections.

    Some members maintain that ridings with small numbers of members – many of which are in Quebec and Atlantic Canada – have too much influence over leadership contests. As it is now, ridings with only a few dozen Conservative members have the same sway as those with thousands of members.

    After this change, each electoral district will be allocated points) or 1 point per vote cast – whichever number is lower.

    In about 10 Quebec ridings in the last leadership election , fewer than members) cast a vote. In Bourassa, a riding in Montreal’s north end, just 23 party members cast votes – and yet they had the same sway over the result as some ridings in Alberta and Saskatchewan where several hundred votes were cast.

    “Every step we make toward one member, one vote, brings us closer to the assurance that the leader will always be picked by Western members,” a Quebec organizer, speaking on background, told Radio-Canada.

    “We will keep our weight as a riding if we work hard to get to 100 members. It is an incentive for ridings to work harder to raise their membership numbers, “a Quebec MP, also speaking on background, told the French-language arm of the CBC.

    Delegates rejected electronic voting for leadership contents, more restraints on who can run under the party banner in federal elections and a move to replace the word “compassionate” with “progressive” in the party’s statement of principles.

    Delegates also rejected a move to create a specific number of youth delegate positions at conventions and a youth council for young Conservatives.

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