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It’s time to flip the script on climate action.

The federal government has brought to bear an impressive suite of climate measures — for which it has never received enough credit — but rather than wielding all this hard and noble work like the political sword it should be, our Liberal leaders are parrying attack after attack from the Opposition.

There’s every reason to expect they’ll be parrying a whole lot more on April 1 and afterwards.

But while the federal government is right to point out the economic efficiency of carbon pricing and the fact that most Canadians get more money back than they pay, these are also defensive rebuttals. And in politics, the best defence really is an offence.

It’s useful to introduce some communications jargon here. A sword issue is essentially a topic you want to be talking about because you believe you’re stronger on it than your opponent. By contrast, a shield issue is one your opponent feels strong on — their sword issue — putting you on the defensive.

There is no question that the Conservative Party of Canada is wielding the carbon tax as, well, an axe.

But the governing Liberals should spend less time raising their shields and more time striking first. Striking against the Opposition and certain provinces that have skirted their responsibility on climate action for too long, simply letting the federal government do the work for them, only to complain about carbon pricing for perceived political gain.

Indeed, politics is the ultimate funhouse mirror: a grain of sand can become distorted into a mountain and a mountain into a speck on the glass.

So it has become with carbon pricing — a policy that leaves most households better off and is responsible for a minuscule 0.3 per cent of food price increases — and the real mountain that has somehow retreated to the horizon: climate action. (By which I mean the myriad measures we’re taking to help prevent the greatest threat to our way of life. That little thing.)

The federal Liberals must go on the offensive in defending the carbon tax, writes @trevormelanson #cdnpoli #ClimateAction #CarbonTax #PierrePoilievre @PierrePoilievre #Conservatives #abpoli #skpoli #Onpoli

What’s more — and sadly ironic in all this — is that climate change has never been more present, more real and more disastrous for Canadians from coast to coast, to coast.

Last year was Canada’s worst wildfire season ever, resulting in the full-scale evacuation of a capital city, Yellowknife. Things aren’t necessarily looking up in 2024, as Alberta declared an early start to the wildfire season in February.

In Ontario, where extreme heat days are expected to triple, the health costs alone from last year’s wildfires clocked in at an estimated $1.28 billion in a single week in just one province.

And in B.C., also no stranger to record-setting wildfires, the province’s wine and cherry industries are worried about a “catastrophic” and “devastating” year due to recent extreme weather events. While on the opposite coast, Nova Scotia is recovering from $170 million in insured damages from last year’s floods.

The summers are bad enough, but even our winters are increasingly less Canadian. Ottawa’s Rideau Canal was closed entirely to skating in 2023 and was open just 10 days this past winter. It’s normally open January, February and sometimes March. An Ontarian I spoke with recently mentioned the pond by his house didn’t freeze over this year.

What’s more Canadian than a game of hockey in the great outdoors?

Perhaps the biggest funhouse mirror distortion of all is the suggestion that clean energy threatens our way of life as if driving an EV is really so different from driving a gas car.

The reality is that climate action is, of course, the only way to protect our way of life — the pastimes we treasure, the experiences we grew up with and want to pass down to our kids. It’s also the only way to build a sustainable economy and lower energy bills long term as we free ourselves from the volatile geopolitics of fossil fuels.

This shouldn’t be a shield issue for the federal government.

After April 1, the real question on repeat should be: What would the Opposition and certain premiers do instead, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rightly recently asked?

How would they protect us from the environmental, economic and costly impacts of climate change?

How would they help Canada keep up as the world transitions away from fossil fuels?

Silence should be a scandal.

Trevor Melanson is the communications director of Clean Energy Canada, a think tank at Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

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my question is: why the hell aren't they asking those questions daily?

other article in NO today: NDP ask why profit gouging isn't being cited for high fuel price?

that is a trick question. Answer: fossil owned mass media setting the narrative. ha ha ha.

Right-wing attacks — sponsored by the O&G industry — on Canada's climate policies are based on lies:
Fiction #1: Carbon pricing is a major driver of inflation.
Fiction #2: Carbon pricing represents a financial burden on Canadians.

The Trudeau Liberals are open to legitimate criticism on climate — but from progressives and climate activists on the left, not fossil-fuel deniosaurs on the right.
Not for doing too much, but for doing too little.

Under Trudeau, Canada remains a climate laggard, not a leader. Climate Action Tracker's 2023 report rates Canada's efforts overall as "highly insufficient". Same rating since 2011 -- in every year but one.
Pandering to the fossil fuel industry.
Building out fossil fuel infrastructure (new oilsands export pipeline: TMX) in a climate "emergency".
Greenlighting LNG projects.
Letting fossil-fuel interests dictate the agenda.
Deliberate sabotaging their own climate policy.
Weak-kneed defence of carbon pricing.
Policy incoherence.
Climate doubletalk.
Insisting that Canada needs to sell more fossil fuels to fund climate action.
Persuading Canadians that we can both act on climate and double down on the problem: fossil fuels.
Ignoring the best available science.
Taking science-based climate policy off the table.
Funnelling billions of dollars in subsidies to the überwealthy fossil fuel industry.
Grossly undercounting emissions in the O&G and forestry sectors.
Selling future generations down the river.
Implicit climate change denial.

Trudeau: "I took a lot of grief across the country for buying a pipeline. But I knew that if we want to be able to pay for the innovation, the transformation of our economy to be greener, to be cleaner, we need to get the best possible price for our oil products now, and that means getting out across the Pacific. That meant twinning the Trans Mountain pipeline.
"That's why we bought the pipeline, because it was good for Alberta and it's good for the country."
"Braid: Trudeau doesn't look like a Prime Minister who's ready to quit" (Calgary Herald, 21-Feb-24)

"A recent study from Oil Change International found Canada is on track to be the second-largest fossil fuel expander, behind the United States, by 2050. (National Observer, 2023)

Petro-progressive leaders are betting that the world will fail to take real action on climate change. The only scenario in which oilsands expansion makes sense. Our "climate" leaders — Trudeau, Notley, and Horgan — are banking on failure.

The Liberals' duplicity on climate is endless.
One reason this voter won't miss them when they are gone.

When the petulant Poilievre and his vacuous vipers take office, don't blame climate activists. Put the blame where it lies.
Trudeau's Liberals burned down their own house. And ours.

Conservatives have taken gaslighting to new levels and my fellow Canadians have bought it hook line and sinker

I totally agree. It would help if Trudeau and the current federal government would hire a communications specialist to help them play more offence on the Climate Change file. Point out that the carbon tax only amounts to .1% of inflation and .3 % of rising food prices.
Shame on Poilievre for lying to Canadians for his own political gain when the Climate Crisis threatens all life in Canada and the world!

Agree