Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo (Conservative) MP Frank Caputo said one caveat stopped him from voting in favour of a recent opposition motion on climate change.
An Aug. 30 letter to the editor of KTW from Kamloops resident Mackenzie Erlank accused the MP of hypocrisy, noting Caputo tweeted condolences to wildfire evacuees, but two months earlier, he voted against a non-binding motion aimed at addressing their underlying cause of climate change.
The opposition motion came from the Bloc Quebecois Party on June 12 and called on the House of Commons to support five items: stand in solidarity with and express its support for all those affected by current forest fires, acknowledge climate change is having a direct impact that is exacerbating the frequency and scale of extreme weather and recognize the federal government must do more to combat climate change. The motion asked that the House of Commons call on the federal government to invest more in the fight against climate change and demand that Ottawa stop investing in fossil fuels.
All political parties, with the exception of the Conservatives, had MPs vote in favour of the motion. The Liberals had 151 MPs vote in favour, while two MPs abstained The Bloc had 30 MPs vote in favour, while one MP abstained. The NDP had 25 MPs vote in favour. The Green Party had two MPs vote in favour and one opposed. The Conservatives had 114 MPs opposed.
“While I’m sure Caputo is well-meaning, and I recognize he might have been made to vote that way by the party whip, he is not excused. Voting ‘nay’ was a betrayal to everything he holds dear (presuming the things he holds dear are people),” Erlank wrote in the letter to the editor. “I can’t help but feel that when the world is literally the most on fire it has ever been, any party that does not prioritize addressing climate change is the wrong party to be in.”
Caputo told KTW he voted in opposition to the motion as he disagreed with the portion that demands the federal government stop investing in fossil fuels. He said as Canada addresses climate change, it should also have Canadian companies and jobs in the fossil fuel industry to keep other countries from getting their fuel from autocratic states such as Qatar and Russia, countries that do not have the same degree of clean fuel and worker standards.
“The Liberals have frequently said, ‘We need to get off fossil fuels’ — that’s great. In the meantime, what’s going to happen? The world is not going to get off fossil fuels tomorrow,” Caputo said.
Caputo said he believes climate change is real, but noted that section of the Bloc motion would suggest Canada does not have a role to play in a transition away from fossil fuels — and he feels the country does.
“As we transition, I would prefer to see us transition with Canadian fossil fuels, with Canadian jobs that are paying Canadian taxes,” he said.
Caputo also noted the motion was “put forward by separatists whose goal is to disrupt the unity of Canada.”
As for the first three points of the motion, Caputo said there is no doubt he stands in solidarity with all those affected by the current forest fires, that climate change is obviously impacting the lives of many and that the federal government has a substantial role to play on combatting climate change.
As for the point calling on the federal government to invest more in the fight against climate change, Caputo said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has promised that his party will have an environmental plan in its election strategy.
Caputo noted the Liberal government has so far missed its greenhouse gas emission targets and needs to invest differently, arguing the carbon tax is not working. He said for people living in Vavenby or Westwold, there is no public transit for them to travel far distances to Kamloops for appointments, including medical-related meetings.
“I think we need to invest appropriately and, if investing appropriately means investing more, then so be it,” Caputo said.