Does Alberta's Wildrose Party take climate change seriously?
Or are they happy playing footsies with those who think climate change is a hoax?
Of course, former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith once outlined her party's position on climate change by saying "we have always said the science isn't settled."
Smith would later flip-flop on that denial, declaring "I accept that climate change is a reality." The current Wildrose leader's official line echoes that position, with Brian Jean stating "we believe man-made climate change is real."
But if Wildrose believes climate change is real, why don't they sound like they take the issue seriously?
Last week, Wildrose MLA Rick Strankman caused a stir when he demanded to see the "specific scientific research" showing pollution from coal power is, you know, a bad thing:
Strankman proceeded to dig his hole deeper this week, telling a reporter that climate change has "been going on for eons," suggesting it's a natural process rather than a man-made phenomenon:
"You just look in Drumheller, look at all the striations of all the lines in the river valley. It's as plain as the nose on your face. It's been going on for eons," he said.
"What has?" I asked.
"Climate change," he responded.
Uh-oh. This is the kind of response climate-change denying politicians give when they want to diminish the impact of man-made climate change. They argue that the climate has been changing for thousands of years and what’s happening now is just part of the natural cycle that has nothing to do with people burning fossil fuels."
And Strankman isn't the only one in the Wildrose caucus who's made comments diminishing the impact of man-made climate change.
Just look at what Wildrose MLA Grant Hunter posts on Facebook, for example:
As national director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Fildebrandt applauded Maxime Bernier for penning an op-ed expressing his skepticism about "global warming theory," with Bernier going so far as to suggest "the influence of the sun," rather than carbon dioxide, could be the real cause of climate change.
Fildebrandt suggested Bernier's "counselling against alarmism on the global warming debate" would make him a "champion in parliament" to "many disenfranchised Canadians" who, apparently, aren't very interested in what the science actually says.
And oh yeah: #Climategate.
Today, Fildebrandt and the rest of the Wildrose caucus spend little time explaining how they'd make good on Jean's pledge to "tackle [climate change] head-on," happier instead to remain "focused on all things economic and fiscal."
But as the Edmonton Journal's Graham Thomson points out, their silence increasingly looks like "Wildrose is playing to those who think global warming is a hoax":
"For anyone who thinks Alberta has to start taking climate change seriously, the Wildrose's non-strategy on emissions is frustrating, disingenuous and more of the same old thinking that led to Alberta's oil being labelled 'dirty.'
However, there is method in the Wildrose’s climate madness.
The party is playing to its base — hard right-wing conservatives and libertarians and those who just don't like the NDP."
Considering the party's Annual General Meeting last November sounded like this, that observation may not be far off the mark:
Good question: who will take that one?