Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau spent much of the first two official federal election debates trying to convince Canadians that his party has the “strongest plan” to tackle climate change and restore the environment.
Trudeau went so far as to say that all other parties’ plans are based on “magic thoughts” rather than real science or concrete proposals.
But regardless of which party has the best plan — each party claims their plan is the best — successive Canadian governments have a history of broken environmental promises and missed climate targets.
Since Trudeau was first elected in 2015, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen every year, according to government statistics. These include emissions from exported fossil fuels, which went up by about 15 per cent between 2016 and 2019.
In 2015, Trudeau also promised to protect 17 per cent of Canada’s land and freshwater by the end of 2020. That same year he vowed to eliminate boil water advisories in Indigenous communities by March 2021. And in 2020 he said he’d ban single-use plastics. So far, he’s accomplished none of these objectives.
Whether Trudeau has actually missed his emissions targets was a point of major contention during Thursday’s debate.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh accused Trudeau of having the worst record of all G7 countries when it comes to emissions.
This is in line with a recent report from the Centre for Policy Alternatives, which showed Canada’s emissions increased by 3.3 per cent during this period, while the United States emissions grew by less than one per cent, and the other five G7 nations decreased emissions.
But Trudeau defended his record, saying that scientists and climate experts agree his plan is the “only real plan” and that Canada is on track to surpass its emissions goals by 2030.
Leaders debate emissions target
All of the parties seeking to form Canada’s next government have put forward plans to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Liberals have pledged to reduce emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
The Conservatives, meanwhile, have pledged to reverse the emissions target set by Trudeau under the Paris Agreement and go back to the goal of a 30 per cent reduction compared to 2005 levels.
“We have a plan to meet our Paris targets, but minimize the impacts on jobs and the economy,” O’Toole said Thursday.
“Mr. Trudeau always forgets one fact. He has never met a target for climate change. He has great ambition, (but) he has no achievement.”
The NDP and Green Party have also pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by 50 and 60 per cent, respectively.
“What we shouldn’t do is what Mr. Trudeau did,” Singh said Thursday. “Set targets and then miss them.”
Trudeau responded to this attack by claiming his government hasn’t missed any targets — although he provided nothing to support this claim.
“We have not missed any of our targets,” Trudeau said. “We are on track to exceed our targets.”
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