August 15, 2020

Why Canada’s Conservatives must do more for affordable energy

Why Canada’s Conservatives must do more for affordable energy

As the end of the Conservative leadership race draws near, Canadians for Affordable Energy once again calls for the candidates to prioritize affordable energy over green ideology. 

Three out of the four candidates (Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole and Leslyn Lewis) have, for the most part, neglected to do so. In a piece for the National Post last week, Conrad Black outlined the ideological history of the climate alarmist movement and rightly called out who he refers to as “the principal candidates” - one can assume based on numbers, Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole - for falling into that ideology.

Black wrote: “It is disappointing that the principal candidates for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party of Canada have fallen in with such docility behind the conventional wisdom regarding carbon’s threat to the environment and that it is already changing the climate adversely.” 

We could not agree more. In our four-part series where we analyzed the leadership candidates’ energy platforms we found an acceptance of the inevitable and necessary transition away from conventional energy sources to less efficient and more expensive green energy.

All the candidates say they will repeal Trudeau’s carbon tax. Good. They will all repeal Bills C-69 and C-48 which cripple Canada’s energy industry. Also good. These Conservative candidates are undoubtedly better allies to Canada’s natural resources than the current government.

Erin O’Toole wrote in his platform that if elected, he would end fossil fuel subsidies (suggesting by his position that tax deductions are subsidies, which they are not). While he quickly walked this policy idea back, O’Toole is still committed to achieving net-zero emissions. This is a Liberal government climate goal and one that will only result in high energy prices and a crippling of Canada’s resource sector. O’Toole even talks in his platform about a mechanism for taxing carbon. He definitely does not advocate for energy prices to be kept affordable. O’Toole won’t commit to getting Canada out of the Paris Agreement.

While Peter MacKay quickly shared our criticism of Erin O’Toole with his supporters, he cannot be let off the hook either. MacKay refuses to commit to withdrawing Canada from the Paris Agreement. As we have written, the Paris Agreement resulted in policies like Bill C-69, C-48 and the carbon tax. Its goal is no different than net-zero by 2050 - it ultimately calls for the elimination of Canada’s hydrocarbon industry. Again, MacKay must acknowledge that remaining in the Paris Accord will result in nothing but fewer jobs, a shrunken economy for Canada, and higher energy prices. Why won’t MacKay commit to the repeal of the Paris Agreement?

Candidate Leslyn Lewis has tried to distance herself from her past involvement with organizations that granted funding to green groups like reThink Green and the Toronto Environmental Alliance, but her sympathies to the green energy agenda do not stop there. In Lewis’ PhD thesis, she argued for a reduced dependency on fossil fuels in developing countries, and advocates for government subsidized green energy policies. All Lewis has to do is look to the failed Green Energy Act in Ontario to understand that green energy subsidies only lead to staggeringly high costs of energy for the taxpayers. Lewis also has continued to insist that there is nothing inherently wrong with the Paris Agreement, but only Trudeau’s particular efforts to adhere to it. Lewis, of course, is wrong in her defense of the Paris Agreement, as CAE has discussed here. 

Derek Sloan is by far the strongest candidate on the energy file. He is the only candidate to commit to withdrawing Canada from the Paris Agreement.  Consistent with this, he has also been very critical of the Gerry Butts backed Task Force for a Resilient Recovery – the same crowd that has been pushing Paris for a long time. While the other three candidates seem convinced that they must cling to impossible climate goals to be elected, Sloan has acknowledged what we at CAE have been saying all along: the Paris Agreement sets a dangerous precedent for green energy and environmentalist policies that Canadians cannot afford. He has gone further and said that a Sloan government will stop all funding or subsidies to what he calls “the green energy scam”.

Unfortunately, even Sloan feels compelled to concede something to the green lobby, speaking as he does about the need to transition away from fossil fuels. Why is it that all candidates speak of Canada’s hydrocarbon sector as something inherently bad, when it is one of our country’s greatest assets in providing an affordable way of life and countless other benefits for so many citizens? 

In Conrad Black ‘s piece, he offers a brief history of the formation of the modern climate movement. He says: 

“A group of organizations that had generally been known as conservationists, such as the Sierra Club, which was concerned with the preservation of nature, and Greenpeace, which was preoccupied with nuclear weapons, and a large number of smaller groups devoted to the protection of certain animals and habitats, gradually gained ground, co-ordinated their efforts and, especially as the Cold War ended, attracted from the rejected international left a great deal of alarmist energy, collective worry and hostility toward capitalism.”

To deny that the climate movement is closely tied to left wing ideology is to be ignorant of its history. So why are 3 of the 4 Conservative candidates so willingly jumping onboard the left-wing climate train? It is rooted in beliefs that are fundamentally opposed to their own, and has no record of doing anything to benefit the environment. 

As conservative voters get ready to cast their ballots we would urge candidates to look closely at their energy platforms. Paris does not serve Canadians. Net zero goals do not serve Canadians. Climate change needs to be addressed responsibly, but not presented as some monumental crisis justifying the abandonment of the economic order.

Putting the conditions in place for the development of affordable and efficient energy projects, cutting red tape around resource development, and abandoning high energy taxes would make smart conservative energy policy that will benefit Canadians and ensure the long-term well-being of our country.