Thursday, 10 October 2019

Rural Manitobans need to stop electing Tories if we hope to make progress on climate mitigation. (Opinion)


by Larry Powell

I believe we rural Manitobans need to do a deep “re-think” of how we traditionally vote if we want to do anything meaningful about our looming climate catastrophe.

In my own riding of Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa, for example, we're about to elect Dan Mazier (l.), to a four-year term as our Conservative Member of Parliament. While he wouldn't accept the label of "climate-denier" (he does use solar panels to help power his farm and has been endorsed by an environmental group), he’s still echoing on social media, his own party’s shrill opposition to the carbon tax. (In my books, this makes him a candidate for that label.) 

Despite the fact the tax applies to fossil fuels only, is refundable and exempts many farm fuels like the ones Mazier burns on his own farm, he amazingly concludes, it will “increase the cost of almost everything!” 

In my mind, one cannot be a true supporter of climate action while opposing a price on carbon. 

Here's why.

A carbon tax in BC in the early 2000s, worked.  It actually reduced emissions without damaging the economy in the least. It has also been endorsed by leading climatologists, a Nobel prize-winning economists and the respected think-tank, the Pembina Institute, to name a few. 

Here's the proof.

An unharvested field of canola in Manitoba on Sept. 25th, 2019.
At this writing, this remained a typical scene in many areas of the province. A PinP photo.
The irony of Mazier’s position would be comical, if it weren’t so tragic. He's a conventional farmer who is almost certainly facing economic losses himself from a wacky growing season which bears all the hallmarks of manmade climate change. Drought, torrential rains, hail and snow have left vast amounts of crop in the fields and many livestock producers on the verge of ruin. And the irony only deepens when you consider the deeply-flawed way Trudeau imposed the tax on Manitoba. It exempts producers like Mazier from paying it at all on much of the fuel he burns on his farm.

For years, Conservative has been the party of choice for most rural Manitobans. The outgoing MP for this area, Conservative Robert Sopuck, criticized organic production and strongly opposed action on climate change. He was a strong supporter of the status quo in regard to industrial farming and livestock production.

I'm not convinced that I fully believe Conservatives who say they accept that manmade climate change is happening. They take that position because the science is now so compelling, it would make them look ridiculous in the public eye to say otherwise. So their condemnation of a carbon tax is their "fallback position," where they can deny the science in private but publicly still appear to be disagreeing only on solutions.

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