Pierre Poilievre isn’t even Prime Minister of Canada yet. But already the new federal Conservative leader is in trouble with the blue ticks because he hasn’t chugged the green Kool-aid. Even the National Post complained that “Nuclear technology, carbon capture and mining critical minerals are all components of Pierre Poilievre’s approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change, but it remains unclear when he will unveil a more fulsome climate plan of his own.” Evidently the paper is unaware that fulsome is not a term of praise but implies excessive, even sickening. But we hope that Poilievre, who generally does not respond meekly to reproaches from the smart set, will stand firm, not just against carbon taxes but against the whole flawed narrative from which they sprung. If so, he knows where to find the facts and arguments he’ll need to withstand the tempest of scorn he will face. If not, he will discover yet again the bitter truth, amply demonstrated by his two hapless predecessors on this very file, that you do not make friends of your enemies by making enemies of your friends.
The Post observed that “Poilievre did not present a climate plan during the leadership race and has not signalled his intention of doing so in the near future now that he is leader, but has repeatedly been saying that technology, not taxes, is the way to reduce emissions.” But only after quoting various partisan opponents berating him for not being orthodox on the subject, from a Liberal calling it “laughable” to claim the Tories have a plan to “fight the climate crisis” to a socialist saying Canadians “deserve to know” what he’ll do.
The latter is fair enough. And when Poilievre says things like “let’s start with supplying zero emission nuclear technology that can supply electricity to Canadians from coast to coast” or “Secondly, we can expand carbon capture and storage and (…) third, we should be mining lithium, cobalt, nickel and other minerals necessary for electrification — but do it right here in Canada, of course” it is fair to ask whether he’s doing climate breakdown lite or just blowing smoke. Especially when he wants to stop the scheduled carbon tax increase and even repeal the existing tax but then stop person-made climate change some other way to the applause of the me-too-Liberals in and around his party.
There is a temptation to rally round the white flag on climate as on many other issues, to concede the alarmist premise then hope to get by with applause lines that stop working once people decide you’re basically saying yes we’re in the middle of a disaster but ha ha see if I care. In Ontario the Progressive Conservative administration seems to be attempting this approach. But even considered as cynical rather than spineless it’s daffy, because it brings you the worst of all possible worlds in which the true believers regard you as a monster, the skeptics as a coward, and the uncommitted as confused.
Sooner rather than later this man of the worldly mind will have to say whether he believes in the “climate crisis” or not. If he does not, we hope he knows that he is right not to and that he figures out how to say so without tripping over the furniture and self-destructing like the World Bank President David Malpass did when he tried to say so without getting properly tutored on the subject first. To avoid such a fate he can find much at CDN with which to construct a place to stand. But we can’t furnish the courage. That he must locate for himself.