Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Harper's Climate Change Denial is Costing Taxpayers a Bundle

Some of Ernie Eves’s top cabinet ministers partied last week with Kyoto-bashers the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions*, a lobby group with close ties to both Ralph Klein and the energy industry ... It took place in the Queen’s Park dining hall and was a very chummy shrimp-and-wine gathering, a chance for members of the coalition -- the Canadian Association of Oil Well Drilling Contractors, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, etc -- to schmooze Tory heavies.

There were speeches by coalition organizers, and a particularly passionate Ontario energy minister, John Baird, made his anti-Kyoto rallying cry. Needless to say, the audience was very receptive. Baird’s parliamentary assistant, Scarborough MPP Steve Gilchrist ... was busy propping open doors with chairs to give relief to a very hot and stuffy room. I couldn’t help remarking to him that perhaps the room was so unbearably hot because of climate change. He was not amused. (1)
That was almost a decade ago and since then John Baird has only become even more passionate about denying climate change, so seeing him standing on the stage at the latest Climate Change Conference, is frankly, annoying as hell.

Why are we wasting money on Baird's latest vacation, when we know that he has absolutely no interest in addressing this urgent matter, despite the fact that polls show that an overwhelming majority of Canadians want action?

We again lead in colossal fossil awards, but what is more troubling is that we have since learned that Stephen Harper has been putting pressure on international governments to ignore the warnings about the environmental damage as a result of the Alberta Tar Sands.
Three major departments in the federal government have been actively co-ordinating a communications strategy with Alberta and its fossil-fuel industry to fight international global-warming policies that “target” oilsands production, newly released federal documents reveal. The documents, obtained by Postmedia News, suggest that Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, have collaborated on an “advocacy strategy” in the U.S. to promote the oilsands and discourage environmental-protection policies. “The activities of the oil sands sector has emerged as one of the high priority files for the federal government,” wrote Natural Resources Canada policy adviser Paul Khanna in an email, on behalf of Kevin Stringer, the director of Petroleum Resources in the same department.

... The documents also reveal that the government is aware a majority of Canadians want stronger action to crack down on oilsands pollution. It highlighted public opinion research that suggests 72 per cent of Canadians want it to do more and that 79 per cent want emissions to be reduced from current levels ... The coalition that obtained the documents said the revelations may only represent the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of other international lobbying efforts by the Harper government, including recent letters sent to European politicians to discourage similar policies targeting pollution from the oilsands.
David Suzuki is asking why we should give a damn.
In the lead-up to last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen, we rallied more than 14,300 Canadians to send letters and cards, make telephone calls and post videos online to demand that the federal government take action on climate change. Although it was great to see that support, it didn’t budge the government. World leaders failed to deliver the fair, ambitious and binding agreement we need to fight global warming, and Canada was seen as obstructing progress at the talks. Canada’s record since hasn’t increased our hope. Our government has made “law and order” one of its platforms, yet it ignores that the Kyoto Protocol, which Canada signed, is international law. And last month, the government used the unelected Senate to kill, without debate, the Climate Change Accountability Act that the elected House of Commons had passed.

Worse perhaps, we recently learned that Canada’s government teamed up with the oil industry to secretly lobby against climate policies around the world, including California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, even though the government’s own bureaucrats reported that the California policy would “have a negligible impact on the Canadian oil industry” and that it is consistent with Canada’s goals.
Why doesn't this government just come out and say "we don't give a damn what Canadians want, so there"? It would be cheaper than wasting millions of dollars pretending that they do.


*The Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions, was an AstroTurf front group for National Public Relations (NPR), the lobbyists for the oil patch. It was led by Harper's former chief of staff, Guy Giorno.


1. Big Oil's Kyoto Party: Harris whiz kid pulls strings at wine and shrimp fete, By Josh Matlow, NOW Magazine, October 24, 2002

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