Canada Conservatives Reject 'Climate Change Is Real' Proposal, Call 'Denier' Label Offensive

Canada's Conservative Party voted against a proposal that would have added "climate change is real" as an official policy shift, and its leaders called the phrase "climate change denier" offensive.

Conservative delegates on Saturday rejected a policy shift that sought to express a "willingness to act" on the effects of climate change. Instead, the main opposition Conservative Party members voted 54 percent to 46 percent in rejecting the policy addendum. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole told party convention attendees Friday night that his "focus is on jobs" and on opposing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's carbon tax proposals. But O'Toole warned fellow conservatives in his speech that they "cannot ignore the reality of climate change" and expect to win voter trust or future elections.

O'Toole, who expected Conservative Party delegates to vote in favor of the "climate change is real" acknowledgement, responded by urging conservatives to come up with a plan that counters Trudeau and Liberal Party members.

"I will not allow 338 candidates to defend against the lie from the Liberals that we are a party of climate change deniers. We will have a plan to address climate change. It will be comprehensive. And it will be serious," O'Toole vowed Friday night after the vote. "We have now fought and lost two elections against a carbon tax because voters did not think we were serious about addressing climate change."

Erin O'Toole says NO ❌ to Justin Trudeau's Carbon Tax.

Working Canadians deserve a government which will help them get ahead, not scam them out of their money. 👇

— Canada Proud (@WeAreCanProud) March 19, 2021

"I'll also say this: As important as climate change is, getting our economy back on track is more important. We can't have a green future without jobs and growth," O'Toole said. "Canadian voters should have no doubt...[my] first priority is jobs and rebuilding the ravaged economy [from COVID-19]."

O'Toole has for months expressed his willingness to pursue specific climate change actions despite vowing to scrap the carbon tax on Canadian consumers. He promised to pursue a carbon-pricing system that forces the country's biggest polluters to pay for emissions.

"Conservatives know that protecting our environment is critical. We agree with the goal of reaching net-zero by 2050. Let's protect our environment and natural spaces!" O'Toole tweeted in December, sharing a political post which declared, "Conservative are passionate about protecting our environment."

Canada, the world's fourth-largest oil producer and among the top emitters of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis, saw climate change legislation climb to the top of campaign platforms last year. O'Toole himself was accused of being too soft when pushing back against Liberal Party climate proposals, with one political rival deriding him as "Erin Trudeau," a dig aimed at the prime minister.

"We all want a green future for our children," O'Toole said. "We cannot ignore the reality of climate change. The debate is over. But a Conservative government will not solve this problem on the backs of working Canadians. The answer is not Justin Trudeau's carbon tax on the poor, working families and the little guy trying to make a go of it."

Canada's Liberal Party blasted Friday's vote, tweeting Saturday afternoon that "Climate change is a real and serious challenge. Together, we need to keep moving forward with urgent action for a healthy environment and a healthy economy."

Newsweek reached out to O'Toole's office for additional remarks Saturday afternoon.

erin otoole canada conservative climate
Newly elected Conservative Leader Erin OToole delivers his winning speech following the Conservative party of Canada 2020 Leadership Election in Ottawa on early August 24, 2020. - Canadian conservatives will reveal August 23, 2020, their pick for a new leader and main contender to challenge liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in possible snap elections. SEAN KILPATRICK / AFP/Getty Images