Broad climate change policy support will likely wane as individuals face the hard costs of adoption


You may be familiar with The Line: a Canadian newsletter-based news outlet.

In its second year of operation, The Line was started as a place for “irreverent commentary,” says Jen Gerson, co-founder of the company. Founded with longtime friend and colleague of Gerson, Matt Gurney, it was created as a place for “someone that wasn’t afraid to offend everyone and make them laugh at the same time.”

RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney had the opportunity to catch up with Gerson at the GrowCanada 2021 conference at Calgary, Alta., to discuss the political landscape after parliament’s recent return.

On November 23, the official Speech from the Throne occurred and has many wondering, what will change? After a snap election, the government returned back to Ottawa in a hurry. What can we expect out of this new version of the Trudeau minority government?

Gerson says “if we’re going to take the throne speech as any indication, the answer is probably not much.”

The Trudeau government has a couple of things on their agenda, says Gerson, including internet censorship and managing internet speech issues. Amongst the agenda items, will of course be climate change — in the form of a much more aggressive environmental platform.

It seems very clear at this point that issues related to climate change have woven and worked their way through almost every department. The support for the file, according to Gerson, is too abstract and too broad.

Check out the full conversation between Gerson and Haney. The story continues below the player:

“The question is whether or not that broad, abstract support translates into individual sacrifice. That’s the real issue. I think most Canadians when polled will demonstrate that yes, climate change is an issue, and yes we should do something about it. But wait, what do you mean my gas price is going to go up 30 per cent? What do you mean my food prices are going to go up 40 per cent? That is where the rubber hits the road on a lot of these policies and that’s where I think the buy-in is maybe not as there as the true liberals would like or appreciate,” she explains.

Another issue on an aggressive environmental plan is looking at what we as a country actually contribute to global emissions, which as Gerson notes, is less than 2 per cent.

“You can wipe this entire country off the map and it’s still going to be India, China, Russia, and the U.S. that decide where emissions go globally. So where I think the Trudeau government is absolutely missing an opportunity here is it can’t just be a conversation about emissions, it’s also got to be a conversation about infrastructure capacity and hardening,” explains Gerson. “We’re going to be very vulnerable to climate change. We’re a huge land mass with a relatively small population, and we’ve got a lot of rural communities that are not well accessed by, let’s say infrastructure that’s been kept up to date and top of the line, and that makes us incredibly vulnerable to major climatic events.”

She also adds that Trudeau should be recognizing a pan-partisan opportunity, and realizing that on a general scope, most of the parties will be on board for infrastructure hardening.

“This is not a hard sell. Instead, we see the Trudeau government going for more divisive actions that are really based in shutting certain industries down, and punishing certain industries, without necessarily looking at the other end of the equation. I think that’s a mistake.”

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