Canadians are more concerned about climate change than about COVID-19, according to a new poll. Data released by polling firm Angus Reid shows that the major concern for Canadians heading to the September snap election is climate change. Last Friday, a poll found that 18% of voters will prioritize climate and environment as their number one issue.
These concerns have been fueled by an “infernal summer,” bringing climate change to the front of many Canadians’ minds. In June, a heatwave roasted British Columbia, breaking the existing national temperature record. The heatwave is believed to have contributed to about 500 deaths and is responsible for starting the area’s third-worst wildfire season.
Such climate issues may influence the September snap election. Although the polls may favor the incumbent Liberal Party, there are many questions to be asked. Led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party presents itself as the pro-climate team, promising a functional climate policy. Even so, the government has failed to meaningfully address Canadian carbon emissions between 2015 and 2019.
As Professor Lori Williams of Calgary’s Mount Royal University explains, “Climate was a serious issue in the previous election that prevented the Conservatives from winning more moderate voters, and it could be a liability in this election again.”
While Conservatives have openly declared their lack of support for climate reforms, they still enjoy a significant following. In March, the Conservative Party Convention voted not to recognize climate change as a real threat.
Some concerned citizens who voted for Liberals in past elections are starting to shift their votes to less popular parties, such as New Democratic Party (NDP) or Green Party, with more robust climate policies. These smaller parties may divide the Liberal vote.
“For many Canadians, this is the summer the effects of climate change became all too real,” said Robin Edger, director of climate change at the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “There’s a much greater sense that climate change is not just a future problem, it’s a now problem.”
Lead image via Antti Lipponen