The 2019 federal election was notable for the electorate’s focus on climate change. Throughout the campaign, Extinction Rebellion protests rocked cities throughout the country, and Greta Thunberg’s visits to Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia brought the once-obscure issue to the centre of our political debate.
Polls seem to corroborate this. In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 30 percent of those asked stated that the environment was their top priority. Likewise, in a national poll, 25 percent of Canadians mentioned that climate change was amongst their vote-determining issues.
One may argue that this shifting current was long overdue. According to studies, Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and will be one of the countries most affected if climate change is allowed to persist.
Whatever the case, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau evidently took note of this change, and jetted off to Nunavut to unveil his climate plan. In Iqaluit, the Liberal candidate asserted that Trudeau’s environmental policy will be the most “ambitious” ever proposed, before flying back to Ottawa to continue the campaign.
There is, of course, some irony to all of this. The elite in our society seem perfectly comfortable to mandate authoritarian, climate-aimed restrictions to which us plebs must be adherent, but which are not applicable to them.
It seems, for instance, acutely hypocritical that our prime minister deems it acceptable to deliver solemn, sanctimonious speeches on climate change, only to then jet off to the next province to make that same speech to another unfortunate crowd. On the campaign trail, Trudeau was rightfully criticized for this holier-than-thou attitude.
Despite the criticism, this sentiment continues to prevail amongst the elite. Take, for instance, that Extinction Rebellion mob, whose most dreary members would have us stop taking holidays abroad altogether— unless of course, like Greta, you can afford to build a million-dollar, carbon-neutral yacht, in which case it’s perfectly acceptable. Nevermind the carbon production it actually took to build that publicity pontoon. Nor some of the crew apparently needing to fly back home.
Bill Gates is probably the most offensive example of an eco-hypocrite. Despite the Microsoft billionaire reveling in any opportunity to address the masses on the perilousness of climate change, he happens to have the worst carbon footprint of us all, travelling 343,000 kilometers by private jet in 2017. To add some perspective, this is enough travel to circle the globe eight times.
Over the last decade, climate change has rightfully become one of the most important issues to the Western electorate. Andrew Scheer will, almost certainly, be the last candidate who believes they can become prime minister without a meticulous environmental plan. Nevertheless, if this unapologetic sanctimony continues to spew from our political class, the toxicity of the environmental issue is unlikely to be resolved. And the rest of us, with far meager means, will continue to enjoy airfare and beef, too, but probably not in such excess.