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Canadian Election Results And Climate Change Politics


Roger J Smith

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Posted
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada

    On Tuesday 14th October there was a federal election in Canada.

    The minority Conservative government called the election feeling that it had exhausted its viable legislative agenda, and hoping for an increased majority in the House of Commons.

    The main opposition group, the Liberal Party, which is normally centre-left, had adopted a radical environmental policy known as the Green Shift, or in some parts, the Green Shaft. This was fairly similar to the policies of the Green Party, a much smaller group that had not managed to elect an MP previously.

    The NDP, our equivalent to Labour in Britain, had a different policy in which they planned to tax polluters, as opposed to the carbon tax credit approach of the Liberals. There is also a large separatist party in Quebec which has similar leftist policies.

    So the election was set to begin with a debate about climate change economics as its main theme -- then along came the global financial crisis. Despite the fact that Canada is relatively sheltered from this by its safer banking systems, the campaign quickly shifted away from the starting theme on climate change. However, by that point, the Liberals were already well down in the polls and some Liberal candidates were running on personal opposition to the party leader's views.

    Almost defying belief, there was no open discussion of whether or not climate change was a real issue that could legitimately be called a "crisis." I think it was fairly well known that the Conservatives were not as enthusiastic about the science as other parties, but even so, they have never dismissed the science in public, preferring to call the situation either important or urgent, and promising 20% cuts in GHG emissions by 2020. Across the country, however, many ordinary people seemed puzzled by the almost hysterical nature of the Green Party campaign, which more or less mirrored some of the more strident posts one reads on a weather forum about imminent danger to life and property. What was making things even more confusing was that the weather unco-operatively turned very cold during the campaign and snow was falling across the prairies the day before the vote.

    In any case, the two strongest climate change parties did very poorly, despite almost universal media backing for the "urgency" of climate change and the complete suppression of dissenting positions (even those as qualified as mine). The Liberals lost about thirty seats, five per cent of the popular vote (down to about 26%), and their leader looks as though he will be forced out by more moderate hopefuls. The Green Party failed to elect a member and only increased their vote from about 4 to about 6 per cent. This means that one-third of Canadians agree with the "crisis" and possibly two-thirds do not; the voters for the NDP and Bloc (in Quebec) seem to have had more traditional progressive issues on their minds, and were satisfied with the more conventional approach to the issue. These parties increased their vote and representation in the House.

    The Conservatives also increased their vote and representation but not by quite enough to form a majority. So they will still have to find partners in the House on various issues in order to govern. All things considered, I assess the election as a sort of negative result for "crisis of climate change politics" and a very negative result for carbon tax politics. In British Columbia, where the provincial government had forged ahead last year with its own carbon tax (very unpopular outside the city of Vancouver) the vote was particularly bleak for the normally popular Greens and the Liberals.

    So my overall conclusion is that the weather is not convincing people that we have a crisis, so much as a background concern. Some buy the crisis designation, some don't and others aren't too sure. I think the proportions are about one-third for each of those groups.

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    Posted
  • Location: Mytholmroyd, West Yorks.......
  • Weather Preferences: Hot & Sunny, Cold & Snowy
  • Location: Mytholmroyd, West Yorks.......

    How do you feel living in such an 'undercrowded' country affects the impressions of 'climate change'? I know in Britain the first spot of hot weather brings out the "if this is climate change...bring it on...." type comments and I'd imagine that somewhere with 'continental style' winters might enjoy earlier springs/later falls.

    Just a thought.

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    Posted
  • Location: Near Newton Abbot or east Dartmoor, Devon
  • Location: Near Newton Abbot or east Dartmoor, Devon
    On Tuesday 14th October there was a federal election in Canada.

    The minority Conservative government called the election feeling that it had exhausted its viable legislative agenda, and hoping for an increased majority in the House of Commons.

    ...

    So my overall conclusion is that the weather is not convincing people that we have a crisis, so much as a background concern. Some buy the crisis designation, some don't and others aren't too sure. I think the proportions are about one-third for each of those groups.

    Well, we see The 'centre left' Liberal Party adopt a measure known as the 'green shaft' the Greens campaign as been 'almost hysterical', the NDP is 'Labour' the separatists 'leftists'.

    And the Conservatives? Not a word on what they are.

    It's so very hard to see where you're coming from Roger :D

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    Guest Shetland Coastie

    One wonders Roger, whether people are beginning to feel "global warming fatigue." A lot of charities will tell you its something they have to watch for, in constantly 'banging on' about this issue or that you run the great risk of people 'switching off' because they're fed up of hearing about it. Theres a fine line between 'getting your message across' and 'turning people off' its something I've certainly detected in this country re climate change and I wonder if its the same in Canada?

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    Posted
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
    One wonders Roger, whether people are beginning to feel "global warming fatigue." A lot of charities will tell you its something they have to watch for, in constantly 'banging on' about this issue or that you run the great risk of people 'switching off' because they're fed up of hearing about it. Theres a fine line between 'getting your message across' and 'turning people off' its something I've certainly detected in this country re climate change and I wonder if its the same in Canada?

    Spot on. Overexposure and desensitisation. Those who blathered on like fools will wish, come the floods, that they'd taken a more progressive route; one that brings the population with them rather than point harshly and blame the common people.

    Whilst it may (in fact it is) a matter for science, the distribution of such material fact has been a complete and utter disaster, with, apparently, loony people making all the headlines. The result? A completely polarised debate with no middle ground (even if you started with the middle ground you'd be on your way - once you get to the middle ground you persuade people to take one step more and one step more etc etc) and if you don't believe me, look at the climate change thread.

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    Posted
  • Location: Near Newton Abbot or east Dartmoor, Devon
  • Location: Near Newton Abbot or east Dartmoor, Devon
    Spot on. Overexposure and desensitisation. Those who blathered on like fools will wish, come the floods, that they'd taken a more progressive route; one that brings the population with them rather than point harshly and blame the common people.

    Whilst it may (in fact it is) a matter for science, the distribution of such material fact has been a complete and utter disaster, with, apparently, loony people making all the headlines. The result? A completely polarised debate with no middle ground (even if you started with the middle ground you'd be on your way - once you get to the middle ground you persuade people to take one step more and one step more etc etc) and if you don't believe me, look at the climate change thread.

    Ahh, if only all of us could so look down on the fray, eh VP? ;)

    OK, what is the middle ground?

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    Posted
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada

    Where I'm coming from, Dev, is an attempt to give UK readers a snapshot of how the politics of climate change played out in our election, nothing more. The Conservative Party here is a blend of all sorts of centre to right wing views on all subjects, the alternative was (as we had from 1993 to 2004) two parties dividing the vote and enabling the Liberals to win easily with 35 to 40 per cent support. Now it's rather the other way around.

    My comments about the parties are obviously personal opinion but you can see from the results, and ask other NW members living in Canada if you want, the Greens had a very cozy ride from the media and managed 6% support, probably half of which was in a few ridings with universities, across most of the country they were closer to 3%. What this tells me is that despite a very lopsided media environment on this issue where we hear probably less than British or American public from the skeptics (our media are very controlled by large interest groups), the masses have more or less rejected the urgency of the issue. If it were otherwise I would report that. Personally, my interest is more in a full and open debate because we could use that in a number of other areas that I am probably more concerned about -- climate change may irritate me on a purist level but I rather cynically understand that the worst that can happen is that we will get cleaner technology sooner. Our media here tend to present a very one-sided view of other important issues, then the word on alternatives spreads like it used to do in the former Soviet Union, through alternative media and the internet.

    Now, on this other subject of public opinion being shaped by wide open spaces -- in fact, our population is as urban as that of the U.K., probably half the voters live in one of five large cities and their suburbs. It's true that skepticism tends to be greater in the prairies than other regions of Canada, I think -- this is part of the regional culture in any case, and one would have to say that until the weather changes as noticeably there as you might say it has in other regions, skepticism is likely to continue high. People see the climate change agenda as being driven by interests that want to slow down economic growth in western Canada and/or have a good excuse to tax Alberta heavily.

    Well, I suppose the bottom line is this -- the public want to be "cool" as with most issues, but when somebody comes along and says "this requires you to pay x, y and z" then they are not so cool any more. Mind you, the same applies to our participation in Afghanistan, that was also fine until it began to cost something in human lives and dollars. So it cuts both ways on the political spectrum.

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    Posted
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
    Ahh, if only all of us could so look down on the fray, eh VP? :D

    OK, what is the middle ground?

    But that's the point, isn't it Dev? Most of us, me included, have got so entrenched in a particualar point of view, that we don't, and I accept that this is a generalisation, take a step or two back and look at the big picture.

    For instance, have you, in all honesty, thought to yourself "I wonder if the sceptics have a point? I'll think I'll go and investigate that" or do you rather think "Well, hey, I know what's right, and I'm sticking to it"

    In my (often deluded and mostly wrong) opinion - that is the root of the polarisation of a debate. You have to be prepared to entertain the idea that someone else might be right, and majority, say, might be wrong.

    Middle ground? Well, it's long since been destroyed by mavericks on both sides of the debate. What would've happened if the worlds govts, perhaps from aglobal conference simply decided to give tax incentives to less energy usage, and bigger tax incentives to less CO2 emmissions - some 20 years ago. When asked, they could point at the IPCC, but, in general, most people wouldn't ask, they'd simple want to cash in on paying less tax. Over simplistic, I know.

    But no. That isn't how it's panned out. This is how it's panned out "You evil sods have polluted the planet and now I'm going to tax the nuts of you to make you pay"

    Great.

    Well, from my point of view, the jury's still out because in my experience black and white doesn't exist, there's simply multitudes of grey - and we (collectively) haven't found it, yet.

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    Posted
  • Location: Near Newton Abbot or east Dartmoor, Devon
  • Location: Near Newton Abbot or east Dartmoor, Devon
    But that's the point, isn't it Dev? Most of us, me included, have got so entrenched in a particualar point of view, that we don't, and I accept that this is a generalisation, take a step or two back and look at the big picture.

    For instance, have you, in all honesty, thought to yourself "I wonder if the sceptics have a point? I'll think I'll go and investigate that" or do you rather think "Well, hey, I know what's right, and I'm sticking to it"

    Actually, cough, I do read climate audit and WUWT (moderate compared to some 'sceptic' output I guess) every day - and I mean every day. You have to to keep up with where they're going. Do I ask myself if they have a point? Not with the meldrewish 'I don't believe it!' comments, or the 'students running the university' attitudes, or the verbals, the denial, the name calling, the point scoring. Otoh, I do think there is much still to discover about the magnitude of human influence on climate. But I do think the basics are right.

    In my (often deluded and mostly wrong) opinion - that is the root of the polarisation of a debate. You have to be prepared to entertain the idea that someone else might be right, and majority, say, might be wrong.

    Not sure about this. I do, as I say, think the basics are right, but perhaps I do do this by reading what I do every day?

    Middle ground? Well, it's long since been destroyed by mavericks on both sides of the debate. What would've happened if the worlds govts, perhaps from aglobal conference simply decided to give tax incentives to less energy usage, and bigger tax incentives to less CO2 emmissions - some 20 years ago. When asked, they could point at the IPCC, but, in general, most people wouldn't ask, they'd simple want to cash in on paying less tax. Over simplistic, I know.

    But no. That isn't how it's panned out. This is how it's panned out "You evil sods have polluted the planet and now I'm going to tax the nuts of you to make you pay"

    Great.

    Well, from my point of view, the jury's still out because in my experience black and white doesn't exist, there's simply multitudes of grey - and we (collectively) haven't found it, yet.

    Except, no one I can't remember anyone from my 'side' (awful word) calls anyone evil sods - that's the myth. Otoh, I've lost count of the number of time people like me are li*rs, fr*udster, want to send the world back to the stone, destroy the economy, 'TAX!!! everyone like mad',evil etc etc etc. But, maybe I'm polarised :doh:

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    Posted
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
    Except, no one I can't remember anyone from my 'side' (awful word) calls anyone evil sods - that's the myth. Otoh, I've lost count of the number of time people like me are li*rs, fr*udster, want to send the world back to the stone, destroy the economy, 'TAX!!! everyone like mad',evil etc etc etc. But, maybe I'm polarised :doh:

    You'll note, of course, that I haven't said or implied any of those things. Indeed, the context in which it is written is that government are saying it. Unless of course you believe that you have the power of taxation? (You might, I haven't got a clue what you do)

    But, your response shows what I'm saying. My argument, it appears, by you, hasn't been read clearly enough - you saw it, immediately, as a retrenchment of my position and, it seems to me, as an ad-hominem personal attack on you. It wasn't. It isn't.

    I can see nothing wrong with saying that the extreme parties involved in this debate have hijacked it to such an extent that it's affected the way politics are rendering a solution. And because of that, a lot of people are being desensitised to what is an extremely important issue - the general wrecking of our home, our planet.

    I'd have thought that you'd have bought into that one Dev?

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