Canada Politics

New Democrats laud Conservative MP for ‘finally’ recognizing the impact of climate change

Canada Politics

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Conservative MP Peter Braid

It's not often that the New Democrats praise a Conservative MP — it is, after all, the opposition's job to 'oppose' the government.

But in a rare — and opportunistic — press release, they are doing just that: they're lauding Tory MP Peter Braid who, earlier this week, told CBC News that climate change and extreme weather are connected.

"We are seeing the effects, the impacts of climate change," Braid told Power and Politics' host Evan Solomon on Monday.

"With climate change comes extreme weather events. We saw that through the floods in southern Alberta, we’re now seeing that with the ice storms in Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto, with the extreme cold across the country."

The New Democrats say that they're encouraged by Braid's comments.

FINALLY, A CONSERVATIVE MP RECOGNIZES THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Will 2014 bring commonsense to Conservative environmental policy?

Following the surprising admission by Conservative MP Peter Braid that recent extreme meteorological events demonstrate the impact of climate change, the NDP is calling on the Conservative government to finally agree to fight climate change in 2014.

“Now that Conservatives are starting to acknowledge the consequences of climate change, the question people are asking is when will we finally see some action?” asked NDP Environment critic Megan Leslie (Halifax). “We have been saying it for years – we need federal leadership, and a real plan, for fighting climate change.”

The NDP has been pressuring the government to back up their words with action – including regulations and investments that actually fight climate change.

"Canada’s Environment Minister, like the prime minister, simply ignore science they disagree with. If they won’t listen to the NDP and millions of other Canadians concerned about our environment, we hope they will at least listen to his own Conservative backbencher."

[ Related: Calgary councillor Sean Chu suggests cold winter is evidence against climate change ]

Environmental advocates, however, probably shouldn't get too excited about Braid's comments.

According to CBC, the prime minister's office quickly distanced themselves from the backbencher's statement.

"Environment Canada scientists have said that individual weather events cannot be directly linked to climate change," PMO spokesman Stephen Lecce said on Tuesday.

"That being said, our government is taking action to address climate change through our sector-by-sector regulatory approach. We are the only government to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions and we've accomplished this without needing to impose a job-killing carbon tax on Canadian families."

Moreover, as pointed out by University of Waterloo professor Blair Feltmate, Braid didn't actually offer his opinion about what causes climate change.

"I think, to an extent, people might have over-interpreted his comments, he didn't say human-induced climate change," he told CBC Radio.

"He didn't say directly that people are the cause of climate change. He stopped at climate change being linked to extreme weather."

[ Related: More Canadians believe in man-made climate change than Americans, Brits ]

There certainly seems to be some divisions — within conservative ranks — about whether climate change is real.

In 2012, Postmedia News outed several climate-change skeptics in the Tory caucus. That list includes cabinet minister Maxime Bernier.

"There is, in fact, no scientific consensus," Bernier wrote in a letter before being invited back to cabinet in 2011.

"What's certain is that it would be irresponsible to spend billions of dollars to impose unnecessarily stringent regulations to resolve a problem whose gravity we still are not certain about."

On the other side of the debate is Conservative MP and former environment minister Peter Kent, who according to CBC has publicly stated that climate change is "a very real and present danger."

And, as for the prime minister, he has actually changed his tune in recent years.

Stephen Harper, Postmedia notes, used to question the credibility of the climate change science but has since softened his stance.

"I have said many times that climate change is a great problem for the world," Harper said in Parliament in December 2011.

(Photo courtesy The Canadian Press)

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