OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says there’s some “insincerity” with prime minister’s appearance at Montreal’s climate strike Friday.
“I find it interesting and ironic that Justin Trudeau is actually protesting his own government’s record on the environment,” Scheer told reporters during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C.
The Conservative leader was in the lower mainland to announce that if elected, his government would commit to prioritizing infrastructure projects that help reduce commute times. Emissions from idling cars would be reduced by prioritizing these projects, Scheer claimed.
“These types of upgrades to help increase the capacity not only means that people get to and from work quicker, more time at home to spend with their families, but also less time in their cars.” He pointed to the George Massey Tunnel replacement as a local example where bottleneck congestion can be alleviated.
Watch: Montreal Climate Strike Draws A Record Crowd
The four-lane tunnel runs under the southern arm of the Fraser River. It sees approximately 80,000 trips from commuter and commercial vehicles a day and has long been on the radar of Metro Vancouver mayors for replacement.
Earlier this year, NDP Premier John Horgan signaled his preference to twin the tunnel rather than to build a new bridge. Metro Vancouver mayors and First Nations chiefs sent a letter to the premier asking for the project to be completed by 2026.
Scheer leaned on the previous Conservative government’s record to promise that if elected, he would ensure projects are done on time and on budget, and he took a jab at Liberals saying their funding had been ineffective.
Last year, the parliamentary budget officer (PBO) released a report noting the Liberal government had failed to spend half of the $14.4 billion pledged for infrastructure projects. The government claimed the conclusion was based on partial information provided by officials.
On the other side of the country, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Montreal. The teenager chided Trudeau for inaction on protecting the environment.
“He’s, of course, obviously not doing enough ... this is such a huge problem, this is a system that is wrong,” Thunberg told reporters after the meeting. “So my message to all the politicians is the same: to just listen to the science and act on the science.”
Trudeau announced Friday that a re-elected Liberal government would commit to planting two billion trees over the next decade to combat climate change by offsetting carbon dioxide emissions. Critics, however, are quick to point out the government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline as a contradiction to his party’s environmental plank.
The Liberal leader has insisted that any profits from the multi-billion-dollar project will be invested into “Canada’s clean energy transition.”
Hours before Scheer’s B.C. announcement, the Liberals issued a press release to draw attention to the Conservative candidate in Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge who, as a former member of the BC Liberal party, is supportive of a carbon tax.
Scheer was asked by a reporter if Marc Dalton has renounced his previous pro-carbon tax remarks and if the Conservative leader was comfortable with having a carbon tax advocate within the party. He didn’t answer the question.
The Conservative leader repeated his pledge to repeal the carbon pricing system, saying “Canada can do so much more to reduce global emissions but exporting the things that we can do well here at lower emissions and exploring clean technology.”
He explained that Canada’s emissions are paltry compared to countries such as China, adding that any climate plan that “does not have a global context is doomed to fail.”
More than 140 climate protests have been organized across Canada for Friday, but Scheer is the only major federal leader who did not attend one.
With a file from The Canadian Press