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Recap: Climate at the Ballot Box

Last Tuesday, GreenPAC held a dynamic conversation at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) that delved into climate’s role in the next federal election. This event was held in collaboration with The Democratic Engagement Exchange and The Dais

Our panel, Shachi Kurl (President of The Angus Reid Institute), Andrew Enns (Vice President Central Canada Operations at Leger), and Éric Grenier (host of The Writ Podcast and co-host of The Numbers and Les Chiffres podcasts) was moderated by David McKie (Deputy Managing Editor of The National Observer).

Panelists reported a major shift in Canadians’ priorities from 2019 and early 2020 when climate change was the top issue to today, when it has become overshadowed by concerns about affordability, housing and the economy. While still a top-five issue, the number of Canadians who report that climate change is their secondary priority has also plunged. Cost of living issues have left Canadians without the time or energy to prioritize their climate concerns, even if they remain top of mind.

That’s something panelists don’t see changing before the next election rolls around, even with more extreme weather this summer or a Trump win south of the border. Although inflation, housing costs and interest rates are starting or projected to trend downward, the relief won’t be felt fast enough to change climate’s positioning, in their view. 

Beyond the politicization of carbon pricing rhetoric, panelists highlighted the need for better climate action communications from all sectors, given a growing number of Canadians who report feeling hopelessness that it’s too late. Yes, this is about elected leaders moving the conversation beyond singular policy tools, but panelists also noted the need for climate narratives that move beyond politics and policies. Canadians, they said, need to see a lot more communication from business and other sectors about climate progress, jobs, solutions, innovation and ties between climate action and Canadian economic competitiveness. 

While sobering, it is important to remember the vast majority of Canadians are worried about climate change and support climate action even if affordability concerns are top of mind. There are opportunities for all of us to shape the conversation ahead of the 2025 federal election in the way we communicate with those around us about the urgency and opportunity to build a climate safe future, including with the candidates who will eventually be knocking at our door.

Check out the full conversation here:

And read take a look at this summary from the Writ’s Éric Grenier here.


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