Conservative Party leader Erin O'Toole said in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Wednesday that his party must do more to combat climate change, offering more substantive policy than the "laundry list" of environmental positions offered under his predecessor, Andrew Scheer.
"We had kind of a laundry list of a number of things we were going to do on the environment, but there was not something that people could specifically look to for emission reduction," O'Toole said of the party's 2019 platform.
During the 2019 election, Andrew Scheer's climate policy included scrapping the federal carbon tax, introducing emissions standards for major polluters, and plans for both public and private investment into emission-reducing and green technologies.
"There are other ways you can tackle emissions strategically – and actually smart policy that I will be able to point to and say, 'This is how you're going to be playing your role in our national approach to reducing emissions,'" O'Toole said in reference to the carbon tax, which he opposes.
Yet O'Toole faces opposition from within his own party on the issue of climate change. At the recent Conservative Party policy convention, despite the party voting to reject a proposition declaring that "climate change is real," O'Toole called on his party to "boldly reclaim the environment as an area where Conservatives are leaders."
If the vote discouraged O'Toole on the matter, the effects of it are certainly not visible. The Conservative Party leader has continued to call upon his party to take action on climate change, and he has promised to release a plan to tackle the issue before the next election.
That plan will not include a carbon tax, however, with the repealing of the Trudeau government's carbon pricing scheme has been a major promise in his bid for party leader last year. It is largely unclear what type of policies the Conservatives will propose on the matter.
For O'Toole, striking a balance between substantive climate change policy and respecting his base of supporters may be a difficult equilibrium to maintain. Some conservatives have even questioned whether climate change policy would be effective at wooing voters to the Conservative Party, suggesting that those who prioritize the issue will likely vote Liberal, NDP, or Green either way.