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

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

School District 20 is advising the public there has been a positive case of COVID-19 at the Trail high school. Photo: Trail Times
District confirms positive COVID case at Trail high school

The person is at home self-isolating, administration advised on Wednesday

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

Most Read