Image: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Canada’s New Conservative Leader Is Pro-Pipeline and Anti-Carbon Tax

We looked into Andrew Scheer’s take on environmental issues. Here’s what we found.

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May 29 2017, 7:54pm

Image: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Andrew Scheer, former Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons, was elected as the leader of the country's Conservative Party on Saturday in a massive upset, meaning he'll be coming up against Justin Trudeau in the country's next federal election, slated for 2019. Choruses of "who?" rang out on the internet as Canadians tried to learn more about Scheer, the next contender for Prime Minister, and what he stands for.

Scheer calls himself a social conservative—he's got a firmly pro-life voting record, doesn't support gay marriage, and has previously voted against human rights protections for transgender people. But what does his brand of social conservatism mean for the environment, a more crucial topic than ever given the pressures of climate change? We did some digging into his stance on various environmental issues, and here's what we found.

The Saskatchewan MP is pro-pipeline, and firmly against carbon taxing. He said that taxation "raises the cost of everything and puts jobs at risk while doing little for the environment."

On an archived copy of his now-scrubbed website, Scheer detailed his plan to "rid Canada of foreign oil". He expressed his desire to approve the Energy East pipeline, a controversial 4,500 km project that would run from the prairies to oil refineries in Eastern Canada and New Brunswick. The pipeline has been criticized by environmental groups and activists for running through Indigenous lands and its potential to damage the environment.

Read More: Canada Is Dragging Its Feet on Capping Dangerous Methane Leaks

In October 2016, Scheer voted to oppose ratification of the Paris Agreement. He fiercely opposes a recently-unveiled nationwide carbon pricing plan, which will require every Canadian province and territory to meet a minimum standard for carbon prices. In a campaign video, he said the tax is "nothing more than a cash grab by federal government that will punish [Canada's] natural resource sector" and have a negative impact on jobs.

The carbon pricing plan is intended to help Canada meet its commitment to reduce carbon emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Activists said that the plan still wasn't enough to meet emissions goals, but it's a start.

Scheer has gone so far as to propose an Anti-'Carbon Tax' Policy, arguing that putting a higher price on carbon will make heating and cooling homes more expensive. So, if elected Prime Minister, he has promised to remove all taxes from home energy, saying many Canadian families are "struggling to cope" with current costs.

Last August, in an interview with hyper-partisan conservative news network The Rebel, Scheer said the previous Conservative government had dealt with pipelines with an "evidence-based, science-based approach." This is despite the fact that the Conservatives under Stephen Harper faced criticism for "muzzling" government scientists, often preventing them from talking to journalists about the environment.

On the plus side, Scheer has said he will tackle "real threats" to the environment, including "raw sewage" being dumped into public waterways, but not much information is available beyond that.

Scheer's environmental policies come back to one thing: jobs. He has lots of ideas about how to make a buck off of the environment, but his one real idea for protecting it isn't an original one, and lacks any real detail.

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