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Efforts to get the words “we recognize that climate change is real” into official Conservative party policy have failed.

The vote at the party’s policy convention defeating a motion to expand its position on the environment and climate change were an awkward blow to Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

Though the party’s policy declaration already contains a lengthy section on that subject, delegates’ rejecting the insertion of more emphatic language formed a stark contrast with O’Toole’s message to party faithful on Friday night: the time for denying climate change is over.

The debate on the reality of climate change must end, because it is real, O’Toole said.

“I will not allow 338 candidates to defend against the lie from the Liberals that we are a party of climate change deniers. We will have a plan to address climate change. It will be comprehensive, and it will be serious.”

Delegates to the convention had spent all day Friday debating various policy resolutions, and had been voting throughout the day. Results were tabulated late Friday night.

O’Toole was pressed on his response to the defeat of the motion during a question-and-answer session with party members Saturday, and repeated nearly verbatim his remarks from his Friday speech.

The resolution that would have placed a firm statement right into the party’s policy declaration: “we recognize that climate change is real. The Conservative Party is willing to act.”

The party’s environment policy would have been further modified to stress the need for highly-polluting Canadian business to take more responsibility to reduce their GHG emissions and be accountable for the results.

It would additionally have stated the party believes in supporting innovation in green technology.

During the debate on the resolution Friday, speakers opposed to the motion had quibbled over the focus on emissions at the expense of other pollutants.

“Conservatives need to lead with clarity, focus and intelligent solutions, not buzzwords,” said one delegate from the Toronto-area riding of Scarborough Centre.

To make it into the party’s official policy, motions need what’s known as a double majority: a majority of delegates as well as a majority of delegates in a majority of provinces.

The motion on climate change had the fiercest opposition from the western provinces, with delegates from New Brunswick and Quebec showing the most support.

Ahead of the convention, the anti-abortion group Campaign Life Coalition had circulated a “voters guide” to the resolutions and had urged its membership to vote down the one on the environment, saying “global warning alarmism” was being used to justify population control and abortion.

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