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Two of the biggest threats to Canada’s progress on climate policy are misinformation and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, says Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault.

Guilbeault made the remarks Wednesday during a keynote address to the Canadian Club of Ottawa.

Poilievre’s approach to climate policy goes beyond a “casual disregard of facts and science in pursuit of partisan advantage,” Guilbeault said.

He highlighted the Conservatives’ current oppositional stance on pollution pricing, also known as the carbon tax, and clean fuel regulations, which require companies to gradually reduce the carbon content of their fuels.

“Let me be clear, in the last federal election, Conservatives, including Mr. Poilievre campaigned on a platform that included pollution pricing and a clean fuel standard very similar to the one our government enacted,” said Guilbeault.

“It wasn't much, but it was at least an acknowledgment of the issue. Today, they say that they're adamantly opposed to both these climate measures.”

Guilbeault faces high levels of opposition from premiers across the country, who like Poilievre, say the carbon price will only hurt Canadians. The pricing system has two parts: a federally imposed charge on gasoline, diesel and home heating fuel and a performance-based system for industries, called the output-based pricing system.

Guilbeault stressed eight out of 10 households will receive more money back from rebate cheques, paid quarterly, than what they’ll pay on the tax, but you won’t hear Poilievre spreading that information.

His speech followed an address he made earlier this month outside the Conservative Party of Canada’s policy convention in Quebec City, where he said Poilievre’s approach to environmental issues is “very easy to attack.”

Two of the biggest threats to Canada’s progress on climate policy are misinformation and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, says Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault.

“Obviously, the Liberals are under a lot of pressure to send a minister to go out on the attack,” Alex Marland, a professor of Canadian politics at Acadia University, told Canada’s National Observer at the time.

“They're worried… They see Poilievre and the Conservatives as a threat. If they did not see them as a threat, then they wouldn't bother.”

Guilbeault took time to highlight progress from the federal government on cutting pollution, Canada’s goal of protecting 30 per cent of land and water by 2030, “funding for heat pumps and home retrofits and zero-emission vehicles rebates and charging stations,” and more.

While talking about Poilievre, he warned that climate progress can’t happen overnight: “Any charlatan who comes along promising quick fixes can set progress back by years, even decades.”

While Canada’s emissions dropped in 2020, they rose again in 2021, but still managed to remain at a level that was lower than pre-pandemic. Most of the increase was due to increased emissions from the oil and gas sector. However, Canada was highlighted in a report by Oil Change International this month, which found the country’s oil and gas extraction plans are the second-largest in the world, behind the United States.

Overall, Guilbeault said “a noisy minority of climate deniers has managed to dominate the public discourse” which has “wide-ranging repercussions.”

While climate deniers may be outnumbered by those who believe in the science behind climate change, they are nonetheless still a threat. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned, "Climate science has been undermined significantly" by co-ordinated climate misinformation campaigns, many fuelled by social media.

“Our climate plan is working. There's much to do still, but we are heading in the right direction at long last, after much hard work. We must continually challenge ourselves to do more, not less, because no amount of misinformation can change what we have accomplished,” said Guilbeault at the end of his speech.

“The challenge now is to ensure progress doesn't slip away in smoke.”

— With files from Natasha Bulowski

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It should be noted that the rebates the minister refers to for EVs and home retrofits are paltry compared to what they are spending on pipelines, LNG terminals and fighter jets. The EV rebate is a joke, it's doesn't even cover the tax paid when buying an EV.

Likewise most retrofit rebates for homes barely give more than the tax paid for doing the retrofit. The heat pump rebate is $5000 for a cold climate air source heat pump is better but that is the maximum rebate from the Greener Homes program. You won't be able to get a rebate for any other retrofits.

The retrofit program depends on people willing to spend a lot of money themselves. It not much of an incentive for most. I often feel the Liberals enjoy having the Conservatives around, they can be inadequate but can always depend on the Conservatives being worse.

And what would you say their electoral chances would be if they stopped all subsidies and stopped ALL oil and gas production? It isn’t that I don’t agree with you that that’s exactly what we SHOULD be doing but I’m also a political junkie and know for a fact that they’d be tossed advice like garbage.
This issue is a tight rope for every government t especially since we have allowed social media to pump out vast amounts of disinformation, misinformation and flat out lies about climate change, with NO ramifications to the owners of these social media sites!

Well put and factual. Thank you

That seems weirdly straw-man-ish. You're answering a post saying the government isn't making it easy enough for people to transition, with a post saying but the government can't just shut down oil and gas production overnight. These are two quite different issues. And when one adds in that not even the Greens argue for just shutting down all the oil companies tomorrow, yours is pretty irrelevant.

I do agree that both social media and old fashioned news media are and have been seriously penetrated by the oil and gas companies, who work their propaganda systematically and have applied enough money effectively enough to wag those dogs hard.

And that does make it difficult to push some of the measures that would be most effective. Heck, that's how we ended up arguing about carbon taxes in the first place--originally, there was talk about regulation and direct government action, but right wing economists said no, it should be left to the market, so the proper markety thing to do was a carbon tax that would influence private sector actors to do appropriate things, by putting a price on bad things. Then once they had their way the right said no, even a carbon tax was bad and not markety enough, even though the damn thing was their idea in the first place.

But many of the things the Liberal government does on climate change that are misguided, or fails to do that would be good, are actually pretty bulletproof propaganda-wise. So for instance, most people don't like nuclear power; there are a few weird wonks who just love the technology and close their ears to all the problems, and some people who would all vote Conservative anyway like nuclear because they've learned to hate renewables and they think liking nuclear will piss off "the libs". But since those people don't believe in climate change anyway, the set of people who both (1) care even a little about climate change and (2) also like nuclear, is pretty small. Much smaller than the number of people who care about climate change and like renewables. And yet the Liberals are busy committing to pushing the latest nuclear power boondoggles with a ton of money they could use to build solar panels or make the energy grid more robust.

Again, in the case of the subsidies for electric cars and heat pumps and stuff--the Conservatives and the social media propagandists will go after a subsidy of any size, doesn't matter if it's big or small, effective or ineffective, well designed or too convoluted to use, helps everyone including renters or just helps the upper middle class. The point is, it's a subsidy and it exists and any number in isolation can look big. So if they're gonna do it at all, there is no point half-assing it--do it big and do it well, and you can counter the propaganda with your big results. Half-ass it and you just look indecisive. Yet the Liberals are half-assing it. I can see no reason other than "They spend a whole lot of time talking to oil and gas lobbyists".

Actually. I think it is possible to stop all oil & gas subsidies today and let the market take care of the rest. Renewables are just too affordable of an alternative now to fossil fuels across the world to not cause a transition no matter how much the Danielle Smiths out there want to avoid it or slow it down.

The rebates are relative to what province you live in. The combined federal-provincial EV rebate/grant in BC is $9,000, a sum that really does make a difference. Ditto the combined rebate for heat pumps.

The biggest hurdle for some homeowners in older houses and apartment buildings is the cost of upgrades to the electrical system and improving the energy efficacy of the structure. That's where more public help would be really beneficial.

Also note that the cost of EVs is starting to decline along with the advances in battery chemistry.

In addition, solar PV panels could pay for themselves (public rebate or not) well before their warranty has expired provided there is a reasonable net metering credit system in place with a provincial grid.

Going off grid is initially expensive considering the addition of a couple of home-scale batteries, so the savings calculation needs to compare to the cost of connecting to and using grid power over the warranty period of the panels and batteries.

thank you Environment Minister Guilbeault. We need more of this kind of strong messaging to tell the truth to Canadians about the environment and the Conservatives plans. Pierre Poilievre is a threat to helping reverse the damage of climate change. He does not have a plan that he can present to Canadians and no policies how he can help us move forward in these difficult times.

Exactly! Seems time fogs our collective memories. The real Conservative Party has been hijacked by the oil and gas industry a number of yeas ago. Jack Gallagher a retired oil executive was one of the founding members of the Reform Party. It’s purpose was to ensure that the oil industry got a better deal on the federal stage. To do that the Reform morphed into the Alliance party which gobbled up all those conservatives that were progressive. Voilà! A wolf in sheep’s clothing. The end game? Extinction for all life as we know it?

Purchasing politicians was the soundest investment decision Big Oil ever made.

"Climate science has been undermined significantly" by co-ordinated climate misinformation campaigns, many fuelled by social media." Not fuelled by social media, only mediated. The fuel is $$$ from oil and gas owners, shareholders and wannabes.

Essentially that seems to be their game plan.....but only after they've made their millions, retired to some tropical paradise and died of old age of course. We need more courageous politicians like our federal minister of the environment to call them out as what they are: CLIMATE CRIMINALS.