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Canada’s Trudeau is Under Fire For His Record on Green Issues

Canada’s Trudeau is Under Fire For His Record on Green Issues

After 10 years of a fossil-fuel friendly Conservative government, many Canadians welcomed the election of Justin Trudeau as prime minister. But Trudeau’s decisions to approve two oil pipelines and a major gas facility have left some questioning just how green the new leader really is.

In the months before Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau became Canada’s prime minister in November 2015, he promised “real change” when it came to dealing with the many environmental issues that his Conservative Party predecessor, Stephen Harper, had ignored or seriously undermined. Harper’s legacy had included environmental deregulation, expanding production of Alberta’s heavily polluting tar sands bitumen, a push for drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic, and skepticism about human-caused climate change.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference on the Paris Agreement in April 2016.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference on the Paris Agreement in April 2016. SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES

Trudeau’s first 14 months in office got off to a seemingly promising start. His government reached a tentative agreement with nine of 10 provinces on a national carbon tax, committed $2 billion for clean water and wastewater funds for cities, allocated $518 million for local governments to strengthen their infrastructure from the impacts of climate change, provided money to build electric vehicle recharging stations, and imposed a five-year moratorium on the licensing of oil and gas drilling projects in the Arctic. And for the first time in nearly 10 years, most government scientists could talk to the media about their work, ending a gag order imposed by the Harper administration.

When Trudeau told a town hall meeting in Ontario last week that the country needs to phase out Alberta tar sands production and make the transition away from fossil fuels, he sounded every bit like the environmentally minded politician who ran for prime minister in 2015.

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