Greens to vote against Liberal throne speech unless carbon targets toughened: May

Green leader Elizabeth May and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Friday, discussing common ground

Greens to vote against Liberal throne speech unless carbon targets toughened: May

Capping a week of meetings with opposition leaders, Justin Trudeau met Friday with the Green party’s Elizabeth May, who says she will vote against the Liberal government in confidence motions unless the prime minister commits to measures that lower Canada’s carbon emissions sharply.

May emerged from the morning meeting saying she invoked the names of Trudeau’s three children in her push for a more aggressive approach to fighting climate change.

“I was very clear with him. This is about whether Ella Grace and Hadrien and Xavier are going to have a livable world by the time they’re adults. This is not impersonal, this is real, it’s personal and it’s a question of moral courage.”

They discussed a number of areas where the Green party and Liberals share common ground, and May said her caucus of three will be willing to vote for individual laws that are in keeping with Green priorities, including implementing a universal pharmacare program and harmonizing Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

But when it comes to confidence motions like the upcoming throne speech or the federal budget, which the Liberal minority can pass only with support from other parties, May said she cannot vote for the Liberals if they keep their recent course.

“We could never vote confidence in a government that was pursuing pipelines and increasing greenhouse gases,” she said.

The only way to get Green support would be either to stop pursuing energy projects like the Alberta-B.C. Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and the liquefied natural gas project in northern British Columbia, or to commit to more aggressive carbon-emissions targets.

The Greens campaigned on lowering emissions 60 per cent below 2005 levels to help hold a global temperature rise to 1.5 C, as recommended by the United Nations intergovernmental panel on climate change.

As part of the 2015 Paris agreement, Canada committed to reducing its annual greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

ALSO READ: Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

During the election campaign, Liberals promised to put Canada on a path to being carbon-neutral by 2050 — a move May applauded Friday as a step in the right direction. Carbon-neutrality would mean that every greenhouse-gas emission would be balanced by sucking an equal amount of greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

That’s why she also urged the prime minister to attend an international climate change summit in Madrid next month, to push countries to be more ambitious in their emissions-reduction targets.

Attending would be difficult for Trudeau because the summit takes place as the Commons begins sitting again Dec. 5, with a throne speech that will lay out his general plans for governing. The UN gathering — the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or “COP25” for short — runs from Dec. 2 to 13.

Nevertheless, for the leader of an oil-producing country to attend the international summit would send a strong signal to other nations, May said.

Trudeau told May he will discuss green issues with his environment minister once the new cabinet is sworn in next Wednesday. She said she anticipates Catherine McKenna will be moved from the role after holding it for the Liberals’ whole first term, speculating that rookie Liberal MP Steven Guilbeault, a long-time environmentalist, is an obvious choice for the position.

Trudeau also promised to bring new legislation to harmonize federal laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), addressing a key Green request, and to stave off the loss of abortion services in New Brunswick, May said.

May has stepped down as overall Green leader but is still the head of the Greens’ three-member caucus in the House of Commons.

Trudeau has sought common ground with the Conservative, Bloc Quebecois and NDP leaders in separate sessions over the last week as he prepares to return to Parliament without a majority in the Commons.

The Greens elected more MPs in the October vote than they’ve ever had, but remain the only party in the Commons that doesn’t have the numbers to give Trudeau’s Liberals a win by voting with the government if all the other parties don’t.

That made Friday’s meeting more a courtesy than a negotiation between rivals seeking to find compromises to advance their agendas.

Before their meeting began, Trudeau acknowledged there would be areas in which he disagrees with May, “probably on the level of ambition that you keep pushing us on,” he said.

He also recognized her decade of leadership of the Green party and fighting for action on climate issues, which he said has been a “significant contributor to the fact that we are not in discussions on whether we should fight climate change but on how best to fight climate change.”

May thanked Trudeau for the acknowledgment, then smiled.

“As former leader, I promise to be just as annoying.”

They both laughed.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
Saanich teen ‘locked inside,’ regaining speech after severe brain hemorrhage

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

North Saanich is giving local businesses a break by waving renewal fees for 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich waives business renewal fees for 2021

The municipality raised $48,000 from businesses licences in 2020

The Sooke school district has filled all spots for their French immersion and nature kinderagarten programs in 2021-2022 school year. Regular kindergarten registration is still open and available. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke school district gets surplus of nature, French immersion kindergarten applications

Not enough room for almost half of nature kindergarten applicants

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read