Environmentalists across Canada were quick to connect the major forest fire emergency in the Fort McMurray area with the ongoing global climate crisis, just as the long dry summer that saw so much destruction in the north last summer could be attributed to climate change, based on the science already widely known. After all, why is the north already tinder-dry when it's only May? It would be completely consistent with what scientists have been saying for decades about a slow but steady increase in the number and size of forest fires worldwide, including in Saskatchewan, and consistent with what Canada's own scientists have said about it.
But Justin Trudeau's dismissive response this week seemed to echo the denialism of his predecessor, Stephen Harper:
“There have always been fires, there have always been floods... Pointing at any one incident, and saying ‘This is because of that,’ is neither helpful nor entirely accurate."
But Trudeau knew about the science connecting climate change and forest fires back in August, when he spoke on a campaign stop in the fire-ravaged LaRonge area .
“The reality of climate change is that we’re going to see more and more extreme weather events and we need to make sure that as a country we’re properly equipped to deal with these challenges.”
Why a different answer now?