POLITICS
10/03/2019 15:10 EDT | Updated 10/03/2019 16:54 EDT

Trudeau: Tory Criticism Of 2 Liberal Campaign Planes A ‘Far-Right Tactic’

Andrew Scheer blasted the Grit leader as a hypocrite during the TVA debate.

Ryan Remiorz/CP
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau boards his campaign plane in Ottawa on Sept. 29, 2019.

Justin Trudeau says Conservative criticism of his party’s use of two campaign planes is akin to the “far-right tactics” used to try to discredit environmentalists.

The Liberal leader was asked in Montreal Thursday to respond to a broadside Tory Leader Andrew Scheer levelled against him during a French-language debate the night before.

Scheer accused Trudeau of being a hypocrite and “fake environmentalist” because he is the only leader using two planes on the campaign trail. “One for you and the media, and the other for your costumes and your canoe,” Scheer quipped.

The Liberals have been using a second plane to fly around equipment, signage and flags to dress their events and rallies. 

Watch: Trudeau defends use of second campaign plane

 

Trudeau was quick to note that Liberals are buying carbon offsets to cover the emissions from their air travel, while the Tories are not. Offsets let companies or individuals spend money on projects such as tree planting to make up for carbon emissions from activities such as air travel.

The Liberal leader told reporters Thursday that Liberals also used two planes in the 2015 campaign and purchased offsets to ensure they could “meet more Canadians than any other campaign” across the country. 

“But what we’re seeing here from the Conservatives is a classic and desperate attempt to distract from the fact that they have zero approach on climate change, don’t even think it’s important,” he said. “It’s a well established far-right tactic to try [to] discredit environmentalists and people who actually want to fight [climate change] by distracting.”

Speaking with reporters in Kingsclear, N.B., Scheer said it isn’t true that Tories lack a meaningful climate plan.

“We actually have a real plan for the environment. Our plan will lower emissions,” Scheer said, even though a prominent expert has said the strategy will cause emissions to rise.

Scheer is pledging to scrap the federal carbon price and instead force big polluters to invest in green technology — a plan the Tory leader says will curb global emissions as other countries use Canadian-made energy-efficient products.

“We can chase away jobs and investment here, we can make the cost of living even higher and higher here, only to see that economic activity replaced by production in China, in Indonesia, in India, and emissions will actually go up for the world,” he said. “So the planet is not better off under Justin Trudeau’s approach. It will be under our approach.”

The Tory leader would not explain why his campaign isn’t buying carbon offsets, but claimed the Conservative campaign plane uses less fuel and emits fewer emissions than the one that carries Trudeau around.

“We’ve found that we’ve got more than enough space. We can make due with just the one [plane],” he said, tongue-in-cheek. “And I don’t buy Mr. Trudeau’s excuse that somehow purchasing some credits excuses him, gives him the privilege to burn more fuel at tens of thousands of gallons... per flight.”

Paul Chiasson/CP
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer responds to questions prior to boarding his campaign plane in Ottawa on Sept. 11, 2019.

Conservative spokesperson Daniel Schow told HuffPost in an email that the Conservative campaign plane — an Airbus A319 — burns 640 gallons of jet fuel per hour, according to a company called Jet Advisors. The Liberal plane, a Boeing 737-200, burns as much as 850 gallons, he said, pointing to information from the website TopSpeed.com.

The second Liberal plane used to carry campaign cargo — a Boeing 737-200 — burns 975 gallons of jet fuel an hour, according to NoLiner Aviation.

“It’s Justin Trudeau who has to explain why in the morning he lectures commuters about their carbon footprint, and then in the evening he gases up his two fuel-guzzling planes and jets off across the country,” Schow said. ”Justin Trudeau is a high-carbon hypocrite.”

Liberal spokesperson Zita Astravas told HuffPost Canada in an email that the line of argument being made by Tories is “straight out of Rebel Media’s playbook,” noting the far-right website’s past attacks on environmentalist David Suzuki and Catherine McKenna, the Liberal environment minister.

Astravas said it comes as “no surprise” given that Hamish Marshall, the party’s campaign manager, is a former board member of the company. 

With a file from Althia Raj