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Guilbeault Criticizes Poilievre’s Stance on Environment during Unplanned Appearance at Tory Convention

During an unannounced visit to the Conservative Party Convention on Sept. 8, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre was “very easy to attack” when it comes to his environmental record.

“Frankly, it’s very easy to attack Pierre Poilievre on the environment—someone who claims to be a political leader in 2023 who does not even believe in climate change, who does not believe that we should be doing anything about climate change,” Mr. Guilbeault said in front of the Conservative Party’s national policy convention in Quebec City.

The environment minister also chided Mr. Poilievre for claiming that the federal government was working to take away Quebecers’ money to send it to Ottawa for carbon pricing. During a speech at the convention on Sept. 7, Mr. Poilievre said Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet wanted to impose a “tax of 17 cents per litre on Quebecers.”

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The government’s Clean Fuel Regulations are expected to increase the price of fuel by 17 cents per litre by 2030.

“This is false. The Quebec government has its own system. They’ve had their own system for years and Ottawa allowed them to keep their system because it’s a very robust system,” Mr. Guilbeault said, referencing the province’s cap-and-trade system that was put in place years before the Liberals came to power in 2015.

“I actually worked on that system when I was in the environmental movement here in Quebec. So false claims, denying science, I mean, we’ve played in that movie before.”

Mr. Poilievre has repeatedly promised to “axe the tax,” saying that the federal government’s carbon taxes have increased the costs of heating, food, and fuel. The Liberal government believes carbon pricing is the most efficient way to price pollution and drive clean innovation, and Mr. Guilbeault has claimed that most families who live in provinces where the federal fuel charge applies will get “more money back than what they pay.”

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has said that most Canadian households will see a “net loss,” even after federal rebates are accounted for.

Guilbeault ‘Confident’ in Prime Minister

Speaking to reporters alongside Tourism Minister and caucus colleague Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Mr. Guilbeault said he had come to the convention because the Conservatives had not allowed other political parties to participate as observers, something that the Liberal Party did during their party convention last spring.

Mr. Guilbeault denied a reporter’s question regarding whether he was at the conference because of worries about the Conservative Party. “No, I think we have to work hard for Canadians. That’s what we have to do, not worry about Pierre Poilievre.”

The Conservatives currently have a commanding lead in the polls over the Liberals, with the latest survey from Abacus Data showing the Tories would obtain a majority government if an election were held today.

Mr. Guilbeault said he understood that some Canadians were “having a hard time right now” due to rising inflation and interest rates, which was why the federal government had introduced its dental and child care programs. “The solution is not to go back on everything we’ve been doing, it is not to cut back support for Canadians, it’s to continue being there for them,” the environment minister said.

“We believe that we will be in a better position in the coming months. In fact, we’ve seen how many jobs have been created in the last quarter in Canada, so they are good signs, but we need to keep working hard to ensure that … we make it through this rough patch.”

When asked about the future of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party, Mr. Guilbeault said he had “full confidence in the prime minister,” and that his feelings were reflected by all the colleagues in the party he had spoken to.

“He is the reason why we’re here, he’s the reason why we won in 2015, in 2019, in 2021. I support and will continue to support the prime minister,” he said.

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