Elizabeth May says federal Liberals should stop 'pandering' to climate change deniers
Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth, MP-elect for Saanich Gulf-Islands, accused the federal Liberals of pandering to climate change deniers, as she discussed her party’s plan for the upcoming minority parliament.
May made that comment during a press conference with reporters in Sidney during which she presented a letter that she had sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following a phone conversation.
“I can say without betraying his confidence, because he has been so clear in his public statements, that he is preoccupied with Alberta and Saskatchewan [two oil-producing provinces, where Liberals did not gain any seats],” she said. “I would say publicly now, that it is past time for Liberals to stop pandering to climate [change] deniers. That is not leadership.”
Liberals gained no seats despite purchasing and promising to build the Trans-Mountain Line, she said. “It sure didn’t work Monday,” she said. She later predicted that his promises of additional investments in the energy sector will also fail to gain the Liberals any additional seats, while blowing Canada’s chance of its climate change goals. “It’s a disaster and it should not be built,” she said. She also questioned the narrative that Canada faces a choice between national unity and dealing with climate change. “I know the current attitude is and the media promotes it as well that this is somehow a matter of national unity,” she said.
May had said earlier that the two remain friends despite his “massively disappointing” performance as prime minister since 2015. “We had a good positive productive phone call,” she said. “He knows where the Greens stand on climate and he knows where there are areas where we would like to work together.”
But she also made it clear several times that the Greens would not give the Liberals their confidence if they do not step up measures to fight climate change, noting that the current target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 by 2030 is inconsistent with scientific advice.
“There is no way that we will vote confidence in any government that is setting a course for the collapse of human civilization within the lifetime of our children,” she said.
May also commented on the vulgar slur left on the outside of the offices of environment minister Catherine McKenna, who has been a frequent target of such attacks in the past.
She said the attack reflected a larger pattern of sexism and misogyny that female politicians encounter both in the analog and digital world. May said Green candidates have had to deal with graffiti and online slurs. She also criticized the other leaders for going with a second French-language debate without her.
“It was appalling and it would not have happened, if Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Scheer, and Mr. Singh hadn’t been willing to say ‘we’ll show up. We don’t care if the Green Party is not there,’” she said.
In the letter spelling out her demands, May also raised several “areas of common ground where the votes line up naturally to make real progress.” They include the introduction of a national pharmacare program, Aboriginal reconciliation, electoral reform, as well as policies to ensure truth in political advertising and measures to improve parliamentary decorum.
May also denied that she was trolling the New Democrats when her letter talked of reducing cell phone charges. May had earlier criticized NDP Jagmeet Singh for identifying lower cell phone rates as a condition for supporting the Liberals.
“Our policies call for reducing cell phone rates too,” she said. But she added that she found it “bizarre” that Singh was setting out those conditions in what she described as “bargaining” for a cabinet post. “He didn’t put out stopping the Trans-Mountain pipeline,” she said. “He didn’t put [electoral] reform. He put out a weak set of demands on climate change that the Liberals might have accepted and reducing cell phone rates. In our list of demands, that would not be at the top.”
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