Nova Scotia

Tim Houston says federal Conservative party's denial of climate change 'not helpful'

Tim Houston is unequivocal. He believes climate change is real and the federal party's denial of that fact is "not helpful" for his party as it gears up for the next provincial election.

'I'm the leader of the Nova Scotia PC Party, it's a separate party,' Houston says

Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston is distancing himself from his conservative colleagues after delegates at a federal party meeting rejected a resolution that would have stated the party believes 'climate change is real.' (Robert Short/CBC)

The Leader of Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative Party wants voters to know he believes climate change is real — and Tim Houston is just as keen for those same voters to know he's not leading the Conservative Party of Canada.

Delegates at a federal party meeting last weekend rejected a resolution that would have stated the party believes "climate change is real" and is "willing to act." Delegates rejected the policy shift by a margin of 54 per cent to 46.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Houston distanced himself from his federal colleagues.

"That's a separate party," said Houston. "I'm the leader of the Nova Scotia PC Party, it's a separate party, different leaders, different members and, in some cases, obviously different values.

"But I think I think people that honestly look at the distinction between the parties would see a very, very strong track record of the Nova Scotia PC Party on the environment file."

Houston was asked if the federal position would be a problem on the campaign trail.

"It's not helpful," he responded, saying the stance goes against his values and that of the PC Party of Nova Scotia.

PCs different from Conservatives

Houston said he expected the resolution would be used by his political opponents as a "political wedge" in the next provincial election, expected within months. The current Liberal mandate runs out in May 2022, but it's rare that provincial governments remain in office for a full five years.

This is not the first time the provincial party has distanced itself from its federal cousins. Provincial Conservatives take pains to point out they belong to the Progressive Conservative Party, not the Conservative Party, although many Nova Scotians belong to and support both parties.

Conservative delegates at the federal party's policy convention recently voted to reject adding green-friendly statements to the policy book. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

In 2007, provincial Conservatives found themselves at loggerheads with the Conservative government of Stephen Harper for reneging on an accord negotiated by the previous Liberal government of Paul Martin. Former Conservative MP Bill Casey was ejected from the party during the fight over the Atlantic Accord.

Casey became a political folk hero as a result, and the rift between federal and provincial conservatives took years to mend.

Houston said his federal counterpart Erin O'Toole knows exactly how he feels about the federal policy position on climate change.

"He knows I'm displeased."



Jean Laroche


Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter since 1987. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.