The Liberals' policies on vaccination and climate change seem not to sit well with a small share of voters. Angry protesters chanted anti-vaccine slogans in a Liberals' campaign event, while a Conservative MP accused the Liberals of preparing for a "climate lockdown" through an online video. But the vocal opponents can't seem to deter the Liberals leader from his pro-science stance. Amidst sirens and sheer noise that nearly drowned him out, Trudeau stressed his resolution to push vaccination uptake and address climate change. By holding a firm position on the polarizing issue, Trudeau plays good politics and follows the wishes of the majority of Canadians.
Anti-science sentiment grows in Canada as an increasing number of Canadians fall victims to conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns from the US. Science is under fire as never before south of the border, fueled by Conservative extremists who challenge the scientific authorities and reject scientists' findings. They devote themselves to lies and fake news, making false claims about vaccine safety and denouncing climate change as a hoax. As the anti-science movement spread to Canada, opposing vaccine protests erupted in many Canadian cities while climate change deniers shaped the political landscape. Before the federal election, members of the Conservative party – Canada's main opposition, voted down proposals to recognize the climate crisis was real in Canada.
But the science-rejecting view has never gained popularity in Canada, where most Canadians increasingly embrace science. Pro-science belief has gained momentum as the pandemic and climate change emergencies have brought home the importance of scientific understanding. A recent survey reveals that the public faith in science has intensified since the onset of the pandemic, with those willing to advocate for science surging while skepticisms about science diminishing. More Canadians have jumped on the bandwagon to support anti-climate change actions after ravaging wildfires swallowed a BC town and caused widespread property damages. Tens of millions of Canadians rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated after Covid killed millions of people worldwide. Canada has earned the bragging right for being one of the top vaccinated countries as mandated vaccination gets the nod from most Canadians.
Meanwhile, Canadian political leaders adopting science-supporting views have gained popularity in Canada, whereas those denying it have faced backlash. The assault on science had led Steven Harper to lose the 2015 election to the then opposition party leader Trudeau, whose campaign pledge of ending the war on science helped him win the majority government. Ontario Premier Doug Ford's earlier stance against vaccine passport had landed him in hot water – until his 180-degree reversal decision to meet the public expectations. Capturing the general mood on climate change, Conservatives leader Erin O'Toole has called for the party members' efforts to shed the Conservatives' image as hostile to the environment.
In the current election dubbed the "pandemic election," the Liberals have promised more robust vaccination measures and made the most ambitious plan to advance its pro-science mandate. It has pledged $1 billion to help provinces create its vaccine passport system and announced better climate guidelines than the Conservatives. In an election where science becomes a major campaign issue, the Liberals can score more points through policies that tap into the growing public trust in science and stick to its science-supporting values.
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