Liberal, Green party leaders to take part in Montreal climate change march – Global News

Liberal, Green party leaders to take part in Montreal climate change march - Global News
Conservatives promise to open up a judicial inquiry into SNC-Lavalin affair
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Green party Leader Elizabeth May will be in Montreal on Friday to take part in a climate change march alongside Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will not be taking part in “any climate event,” according to a party spokesperson.

Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel has elected Liberals since it was created in the 1980s, though its three MPs have been Alfonso Gagliano, a minister brought down in the sponsorship scandal of the early 2000s; Massimo Pacetti, whom Justin Trudeau expelled from the Liberal caucus in 2014 over allegations hed harassed another MP; and Nicola Di Iorio, who stopped showing up in the House of Commons before eventually resigning last winter.

The Montreal rally, which is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of protesters, will start at the George-Étienne Cartier statue in Mount-Royal Park at 12 p.m.

The NDPs Jagmeet Singh is spending a third day in a row in British Columbia, talking mainly about housing in events on Vancouver Island. Hes playing defence: Vancouver Island is where the Greens see their best chances of picking up seats, after a byelection win over the New Democrats in Nanaimo-Ladysmith last May.

Montreal police say traffic will be difficult in the area between Berri, Peel, St-Joseph and de la Commune Streets.

Trudeau starts his day in Sudbury, Ont., expected to continue a string of environment-related announcements at a conservation area, before whistlestopping his way southeast to a rally in Peterborough, where cabinet minister Maryam Monsef is fighting to keep her seat.

Police would not divulge details on the force’s strategy for the march nor the number of officers that will be on hand during the demonstration.

Scheer has a morning announcement scheduled at Jarry Park and then hits the town with Conservative candidates in what have historically been among the safest Liberal ridings in the city: Mount Royal and Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel.

However, the force noted that security will be the responsibility of the event’s organizers and that officers will only be on hand to intervene if needed.

From left to right, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

READ MORE: Best way to fight climate change is to go to school, Quebec education minister tells students taking part in climate march

Several educational institutions have already announced they will be cancelling classes to allow students to attend the march.

And Maxime Bernier of the Peoples Party continues his own trip to the West, spreading his populist message in Calgary after spending Wednesday in Vancouver.

Concordia University said it will be cancelling classes on Friday afternoon. McGill University will not be cancelling classes.

Dawson College, Cégep du Vieux Montréal and John Abbott College are among the CEGEPs that are cancelling classes for the day to allow students to participate in the rally. Some CEGEP teachers unions have also voted to strike that day.

May is to speak in the afternoon about the role she sees Quebec playing in the Greens vision of a Canada powered by renewable energy.

READ MORE: Quebecs largest school board takes the lead and cancels classes for Sept. 27 climate march

A report issued last fall by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, part of the London School of Economics, found that the U.K.'s expert committee had helped both Labour and Conservative governments make headway on carbon-reduction goals. "The [committee] has made a material difference to the way climate policy is conducted in terms of objectives (the statutory carbon targets), process (impact on parliamentary debate) and substance (e.g. influencing new laws on energy, infrastructure, housing and water)," wrote the authors. 

The provinces largest school board, the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), will also be cancelling classes for its elementary and high school students and turning Friday into a pedagogical (PED) day.

In a series of campaign events on Wednesday, the federal Liberal Party rolled out a promise to commit Canada to net-zero carbon emissions —  meaning any greenhouse gases still produced would be offset — by 2050, if returned to power. Similar pledges have already been made by 65 other nations and the European Union, all of them spurred by last year's findings from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that global heating needs to be limited to 1.5 degrees C, instead of the old two degree target, in order to avoid the worst effects. 

Other school boards, including the English Montreal School Board and the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys, will not be following in the CSDMs footsteps, saying it will be business as usual in their classrooms.

He is particularly heartened that the Liberals appear intent on following the same path that the United Kingdom has been on since 2008, enshrining carbon-reduction targets in law with five-year plans,and setting up an independent expert committee to advise the government on the best way to reduce the country's footprint — industry by industry, and sector by sector. 

The Lester B. Pearson School Board noted that Sept. 27 was already a designated PED day for its elementary and high school students.

"So far, it seems to be riskier not to have a law than to have one," says Joana Setzer, another Grantham fellow who tracks such climate change litigation — 260 cases and counting across 27 countries (Canada accounts for 12 of them),  and another 922 suits against state and federal authorities in the United States.

In response to the mass cancellation of classes, Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge insisted the best way for students to fight the climate crisis is to simply stay in school on Sept. 27.

To date, the provinces have largely been able to pursue their own strategies via cap-and-trade agreements, carbon taxes, and large emitter levies. Any move towards a "one-size-fits-all" approach is likely to be met with a "fair amount of resistance" from the provinces and industry, notes Duncanson.

The best way to fight climate change is to go to school. Of course, the solutions are in the school, but in Quebec, we have the right to express ourselves to go in the street and say what we want to say, he said Wednesday.

And even if the Liberals win re-election and turn their promise into law, that won't necessarily stop a future government from reversing course, as Doug Ford did when he became Ontario premier, passing a law to kill a cap-and-trade climate plan that had been adopted under Kathleen Wynne.

Public transit across Greater Montreal will be free on Friday as a show of support for the climate march.

We will be waiting for you by our sides for the future of the planet, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced.

"The devil will be in the details, but this promise seems most likely to impact provincial (greenhouse gas reduction) frameworks," says Sander Duncanson, a Calgary partner with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, who specializes in environmental and regulatory law. 

After the march, Thunberg, a prominent voice in the fight against the climate crisis, has been invited to city hall to receive a key to the city from the mayor.

There are no plans for the 16-year-old to meet with Quebec Premier François Legault during her visit.

According to several activist groups, at least 860 cities around the world have demonstrations planned this Friday.

What is clear is that meeting Canada's current 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target — let alone the more ambitious 2050 pledge — will require heavy lifting, with lots of investment and sacrifice, regardless of which party is in power.

The SNC-Lavalin affair returned to the campaign trail today, with the Conservatives promising to launch a judicial inquiry into the scandal if they form government this fall.

This despite the fact that even under the most-optimistic scenario, Canada is only two-thirds of the way to meeting its far-less-onerous 2015 pledge to reduce total emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by the end of the next decade. 

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer travelled to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's Papineau riding Thursday morning to make the announcement.

Canada remains a long way from meeting its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets under the Paris Agreement, but adopting an even more ambitious goal for 2050 might actually be the best way forward, say experts and environmentalists. 

"We are here in Papineau to send a message to Justin Trudeau, and to the people in his office who are associated with this scandal, [that] we're taking this situation very seriously and we want to eliminate any possibility of it happening again," Scheer told reporters during the campaign stop.

"It sends out a very clear signal to actors — companies, investors, consumers — who need to make longer-term decisions," she says. "It provides certainty and that's really good for the economy."

Scheer also said a Conservative government would allow the RCMP to access information protected by cabinet confidence by applying to the Supreme Court of Canada — legislation he's dubbing the No More Cover Ups Act.

Has covered news and politics at home and abroad, reporting from dozens of countries. He has also written extensively about sports, including seven Olympic Games and a best-selling book on the business of pro-hockey.

"The measures I've announced today and others I will announce later in the campaign will safeguard our democracy against the whims of sleazy and unscrupulous politicians," he said.

It's another hard turn from a government that sponsored a motion declaring a national climate emergency in June, then approved the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline the very next day. 

Just hours before the official dissolution of Parliament, the Globe and Mail published a story suggesting the RCMP were being stymied in their attempts to interview potential witnesses in the SNC-Lavalin case because they were shackled by cabinet confidence.

"It takes it from being the Liberal, or Conservative, or NDP target to being a Canadian target," says Stewart. "It's no longer a tribal thing."

Trudeau has long argued he granted an unprecedented waiver to free up former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould and others to testify in front of a parliamentary committee earlier this year, often referring to it as "the largest and most expansive waiver of cabinet confidence in Canada's history."

Responding to the Globe's story, Trudeau has said it was the Privy Council clerk who made the decision not to broaden the waiver.

"The low hanging fruit has been picked. Cheap and easy is gone," says Greenpeace's Stewart. "Now, we have to do the hard things."

"We respect the decisions made by our professional public servants. We respect the decision made by the clerk," Trudeau said at the time of dissolution.

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.

The Liberal leader has acknowledged he needs to earn back Canadians' trust after his campaign was rocked by last week's revelations that Trudeau wore blackface on at least three separate occasions.

Trudeau, campaigning in Sudbury today, was asked what he could do between now and election day to prove he's trustworthy. He replied he would "continue to focus on the things that Canadians care most about."

"Canadians care about fighting against intolerance and racism, and I will keep standing up against intolerance every single day," he said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who called for a public inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin affair shortly after the story broke, said his party would attack deferred prosecution agreements as the root of the issue.

"It's wrong to give corrupt companies an out," Singh told reporters at a campaign event in Campbell River, B.C.

Singh also dismissed the Liberals' claim that prosecuting the Quebec-based engineering firm could lead to the loss of thousands of jobs.

"There will continue to be jobs for Canadians and Quebecers, despite the threat Mr. Trudeau referred to," he said.

Quebec's popular premier, François Legault, has said that he supports Trudeau's intentions on the SNC-Lavalin file, to save jobs, but does not always agree with his methods.

Polls have also suggested there is slightly more tolerance for Trudeau's actions on SNC-Lavalin in Quebec than there is in other parts of the country. 

A Nanos poll released in September found that 44.3 per cent of Quebecers polled said Trudeau was justified or somewhat justified in his actions, which is about 10 points higher than the national average of 34.9 per cent. That same poll showed that 48.4 per cent of Quebecers said Trudeau was not justified or somewhat not justified. 

An Abacus Data poll released in August found that 50 per cent of Quebecers  felt Trudeau was motivated to protect jobs, while 50 per cent said his actions were inappropriate. 

Last month, Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion found Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by trying to influence Wilson-Raybould to overrule a decision denying a deferred prosecution agreement to SNC-Lavalin.

In his report, Dion wrote that "the prime minister, directly and through his senior officials, used various means to exert influence over Ms. Wilson‑Raybould."

"The authority of the prime minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the director of public prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson‑Raybould as the Crown's chief law officer," Dion wrote.

SNC-Lavalin is facing bribery and fraud charges related to alleged payments of close to $50 million to public officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011 to secure government contracts.

In the 2002 Babcock decision, the Supreme Court of Canada defended the principle of cabinet confidence, saying that if cabinet members' statements were subject to disclosure they might end up censoring their words, consciously or unconsciously.

"The process of democratic governance works best when cabinet members charged with government policy and decision-making are free to express themselves around the cabinet table unreservedly," it reads.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.