Climate Denial is Stealth Candidate in B.C. City Elections

Primary Author: Gaye Taylor

Voting Place sign

Image: Dennis Sylvester Hurd/flickr

Climate denial will be a stealth candidate in several municipal elections being held in British Columbia this Saturday.

When voters go to the polls, some will be able to cast their ballot for candidates running as members of a “slate” backed by elector organizations like Surrey First, founded in 2008 by a group of citizens concerned about rampant development in their community.

But a number of other such civic political parties are very new on the scene, including Maple Ridge FirstParentsVoice BCViva Victoria, and Kelowna’s Spirit Alliance, all of which were founded in September, a review by The Energy Mix has found.

As CBC News and many local papers have reported, these organizations have come under scrutiny for their affiliations, acknowledged or otherwise, with anti-vaccine mandates and conspiracy theories.

ParentsVoice BC has been making headlines for its virulent, misleading opposition to the province’s sexual orientation and gender identity guidelines. The Tyee’s report on the organization, which is fielding 28 school trustees in eight school districts, said right-wing candidates are “waging a ‘parents rights’ campaign against sex education” in the province.

Flying substantially below the radar, however, is the climate denial that is solidly stitched into all four of these brand new electoral organizations.

To begin with the least subtle, the Spirit Alliance’s educational resources on climate include the claim that “Canada has an abundance of the cleanest renewable resource on this planet; ‘natural gas’ and together we have the ability to become the greenest and most energy efficient country in the world by understanding and utilizing our precious green resources.” As for carbon dioxide emissions, how could these possibly be bad, says the group, given that “we breathe it,” and “plants need it”?

Adopting a different tack, Viva Victoria’s platform doesn’t mention climate at all, offering instead a statement on “environmental stewardship.”

Viva Victoria aims to “ensure the City maintains vital public green spaces and a flourishing tree canopy, manages waste in accordance with municipal best practices, and preserves the natural and built environment for the benefit, enjoyment, and use of all Victorians,” while “refraining from policy-making and costly litigation involving environmental issues that are the responsibility of other levels of government and not within the City’s jurisdiction.”

[See here for an urgent expert plea to the province to clarify exactly what municipal responsibilities are under the CleanBC directive.]

While Viva Victoria’s seven candidates for city council are not carbon copies of each other on environmental issues, there is a strong libertarian and fossil-fueled flavour to their messaging, as illustrated by candidate Jason Jones’ avowal that he will “push back on restrictions that limit choices, whether they be in heating, cooking, or commuting, to allow for a free and open market.”

Viva Victoria was founded by Victoria’s 2021 People’s Party of Canada candidate, John Randal Phipps.

As of 2021, the PPC’s position on what it calls “climate change alarmism” includes the falsehoods that there has been “no steady warming in direct relation with increases in carbon dioxide levels. No disappearance of polar ice caps. No exceptional rise in ocean levels. No abnormal increase in catastrophic weather events. No widespread crop failure and famine.”

A quick glance at the Maple Ridge First platform might reassure a voter that the party is rock-solid on climate. Under the heading of “healthy, safe, and livable city” it pledges to “promote sustainability by lowering congestion, our carbon footprint, and GHG emissions.” Meanwhile, the focus of ParentsVoice BC is on “taking back our schools”, with no mention of a warming planet on their platform.

But the groups are closely affiliated with the far right ACT! for Canada through its anti-vax offshoot, Action4Canada.

According to the UnMasktheRight website, ParentsVoice BC candidates have been distributing Action4Canada literature at campaign rallies and through social media.

ParentsVoice candidate Brian Dominick had his nomination papers signed by Andrew Dodge, Ridge Meadow chapter leader of Action4Canada, according to local news reports.

And MapleRidge First council candidate and vocal convoy supporter Chelsa Meadus was a guest speaker at an Action4Canada “freedom” rally back in the spring.

Climate denial is daily bread for ACT! for Canada, Action4Canada’s parent organization, which got its start and remains rooted in vitriolic Islamophobia. Titles of recent posts under the Environment heading include “Climate change extremism is leading the world to disaster;” “Fighting back against COVID and climate change tyranny”; and “The global warming fraud revealed in one graph.” One of the few recent posts that are actually related to Canada takes on the Trudeau government’s move to mandate a 30% cut in fertilizer emissions by 2030. This policy, opines the author, amounts to “saving the planet by starving human beings.”

The organization’s home page affirms its commitment to “stand on guard to defend Canada and the Canadian people against all enemies, foreign and domestic who, through stealth or outright aggression, seek to undermine the freedoms, economic prosperity, traditional values, and heritage of the Canadian nation and peoples.”

It decries the “globalist destruction of the Canadian way of life via economic and immigration warfare,” and “environmentalists’ destruction of our western oil industry and national pipeline construction projects,” amongst Canada’s enemies.

This story was co-published by The Energy Mix and Watershed Sentinel.

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