Canada's national unity crisis is, in fact, a problem of climate illiteracy

Justin Trudeau can take steps to fix this if he has sufficient political will

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      In 2015, the Liberals received 6,930,136 votes.

      As of this writing, the party led by Justin Trudeau only obtained 5,800,337 votes in this election—a drop of 16 percent.

      The Conservatives, on the other hand, saw their vote count rise from 5,600,496 to 6,052,655. That's an increase of eight percent.

      So where did the other Liberal votes go? A fair number stayed home, judging by the lower turnout.

      The NDP vote total dropped by more than 600,000 votes in 2019 from 2015.

      But two parties saw even larger increases than the Conservatives.

      The Greens picked up an additional 500,000 votes. In 2019, their vote total was up 87 percent over 2015.

      The Bloc Québécois saw an increase of more than 500,000 votes—more than 60 percent higher than in 2015.

      So why did Trudeau and the Liberals fare so poorly?

      Clearly, the government's record on climate change was a factor. In Quebec and B.C., a substantial number of voters felt that the Liberal cabinet didn't make this a high enough priority in its first term.

      Plus, Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau concluded that it was in the public interest to pay $4.5 billion to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline system and spend another $9.3-billion on an expansion project to triple shipments of diluted bitumen from Alberta to B.C.

      Trudeau kept the former Conservative government's climate targets, approved a second pipeline, and gave the green light to a liquefied natural gas plant. The government repeatedly pointed to a carbon tax as its major contribution to solving the problem while allowing fossil fuel production to rise.

      Only during the campaign did Trudeau seem to wake up to the magnitude of this issue in voters' minds. Then he started making grandiose promises.

      He pledged to plant two billion trees in 10 years. He also assured voters that Canada would be net carbon-neutral by 2050, though no details were offered as to how he would achieve these objectives.

      But it was sufficient to stave off the loss of even more votes to the Bloc and the Greens.

      Meanwhile, Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer gained ground in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the outer suburbs of Vancouver, where climate change is less of an issue than in more densely populated areas.

      There was a lot of talk tonight about the country being divided on a regional basis, based on the election results.

      The reality is that the country is divided over the climate.

      Slightly less than 35 percent of Canadians voted Conservative. It's a party that doesn't take climate change very seriously at all.

      A fair number of Conservative supporters don't accept the scientific consensus that rising greenhouse gas emissions pose a serious threat to the future of humanity.

      They just want their pipelines, even as the oil and gas industry is becoming increasingly automated and requiring fewer workers.

      Conservative voters don't care that annual downstream emissions from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will exceed annual emissions for the entire province of British Columbia.

      The remaining 65 percent of non-Conservative voters think, by and large, that the climate crisis is real and requires action on the part of government. So they voted Liberal, Green, Bloc, or NDP.

      That's not a regional divide.

      That's a divide between the nincompoops who are too arrogant or too stupid to listen to scientists, and the rest of us who know a looming catastrophe when we see it.

      Some Canadians are furious at the Liberals over their incremental approach. Others were prepared to vote for Liberal candidates, while still stressing that they're not climate-change deniers.

      It just so happens that the climate-change-minimizing nincompoops live, for the most part, in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the B.C. Interior, and parts of rural Ontario.

      They aren't in large enough numbers to elect MPs on Vancouver Island or in most major Canadian cities.

      If Justin Trudeau wants to promote national unity, his government shouldn't pander to these nincompoops.

      Rather, he should make far greater efforts to educate them about climate change.

      The Trudeau government needs to tell the truth about ocean acidification, the albedo effect, atmospheric rivers, and all the other perils that are associated with rising greenhouse gas emissions. He needs to elevate Canadians' climate literacy.

      How to do this? Trudeau should bombard the airwaves and fill the newspapers with ads about climate change in areas represented by Conservative MPs. Launch social-media campaigns ridiculing the dunces who refuse to recognize the obvious.

      Let the Conservatives bellyache about this in Parliament. They'll just look even more foolish to the majority of Canadians who know that this is a serious issue.

      The second thing Trudeau can do is improve his management of government finances. Reduce the deficit and the so-called blue Liberals will return to his party.

      Then when voters in these areas defeat some of their climate-change-minimizing Conservative MPs in the next election, Trudeau can brag about preserving national unity.

      It would even take some steam out of the Bloc, which made mincemeat of Trudeau in this campaign over his support for fossil-fuel projects. And it could also blunt the growing popularity of the Greens in English Canada.

      Problem solved.