During the Munk debate on September 28th the three Canadian leaders articulated their distinct visions of Canada. This was the forth leaders debate of the 2015 federal election and the first ever foreign policy debate between the three major parties. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau clashed on the stage of Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. All three are running neck and neck in the polls as we head down the final stretch. With less than three weeks to go before election day they went at each other like desperate men fighting for their political lives. While climate change was hardly the dominant theme of the evening it was addressed at least eight times. Here is a recap of those exchanges.
Trudeau criticized Harper for having done nothing on climate change in 10 years. Harper responding by pointing to a handful of green projects in Ontario that are supported by his government. He also helped to make Mr. Trudeau’s point, when he reminded Canadians that the Conservative party is against carbon taxes. Mulcair reiterated his support for climate action and he threw a barb at Harper’s environmental record saying, “we have to take care of the defining issue of the age, which is climate change. We’re the only country to have withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol.”
Trudeau asked Harper why he bothers to have ambitious emissions targets with no plan to make good on them. Harper responded by pointing out that the the Liberals were “30 per cent over their targets” when they were last in power. Mulcair called out both his rivals for failing to produce a comprehensive policy to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.
Trudeau offered what may be the most intelligent remark of the evening when he tied climate change to the economy. Harper ended with the surprisingly optimistic prediction that, “we will reach a historic accord in Paris.”
The three leaders and the Bloc Quebecois’ Gilles Duceppe will be at it again in a French language TVA debate on Friday.