Friday, December 18, 2009

Stephen Harper a 'Shouldn't Have Shown' at Copenhagen

Well he made it folks. Our prime minister descended on Copenhagen with all the fury of a fly in your ointment. It lands, you remove it, then cover your wounds.

Photo-ops and a lovely dinner. I am so proud.

Too busy or bored to speak to the crowd, he let 'Jimmy do nothing' take over, who delivered such an impassioned speech that one of the six people in the audience actually managed to stay awake. We won't tell Jimmy that it was because the man had just taken his Viagra and was waiting for his wife. We'll let him think that smile was for him.

Looks like the whole thing was a complete waste of time.

PM keeps low profile at UN climate talks
While some 57 world leaders took to the podium, the job of delivering Ottawa's view left to minister
Allan Woods Ottawa Bureau
December 18, 2009

COPENHAGEN–Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped onto the biggest world stage in recent history Thursday and ducked.

The parade to the podium of international leaders was long, and the speeches were longer: Kevin Rudd from Australia, Gordon Brown from Britain, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from Iran, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from Brazil, Angela Merkel from Germany, Nicolas Sarkozy from France.

Fifty-seven heads of state or government in all came to the podium at the Bella Center, where the climate talks are rapidly unfolding. All came with grand pledges exhorting other countries to do more, to go further, to secure a strong and ambitious deal that will limit the earth's temperature rise.

But Canada delivered a nine-paragraph speech that was literally indistinguishable from the lines the Conservative government has been repeating for months leading up to this climate conference.

And the words came not from Harper but from Jim Prentice, the Tory environment minister who has been leading Canada in Copenhagen since his arrival at the start of the week.

Harper opted instead for a fancy gala dinner hosted by the queen of Denmark. While he supped, Prentice spoke, though his midnight time slot assured that not many were listening.

While Prentice spoke for 3 1/2 minutes, Saudi Arabia's petroleum minister, Ali Ibrahim Al Naimi, spoke for roughly six minutes, and talked about his kingdom's desire to become not just an oil producer, but a clean energy giant in the world, particularly of solar power.

Prentice, meanwhile, slipped in a few lines about Canada's vast energy resources and land mass that were not included in an advance copy of the speech handed to reporters, who had mostly left by the time Prentice took to the podium.

He told the world not of the Canadian Arctic, where the permafrost is thawing and seas threaten to swallow up villages whole; and not of salmon stocks that mysteriously disappeared in British Columbia.

"Canada's broad-based actions to address climate change take into account our large diverse land mass, our growing population and the importance of our energy sector for meeting global demand," Prentice told the near-empty hall.

He added that Canadians share a "profound interest" in contributing to the fight against climate change and that the government will contribute its "fair share" toward a financial package that is integral to closing any deal here.

Canada's low profile reflects the Tory government's profound lack of interest on an issue that has drawn 119 world leaders to the Danish capital, said NDP Leader Jack Layton.

"We're concerned that ... we're not hearing the level of engagement and commitment that we're hearing from some other countries and I believe that the vast majority of Canadians would like to see us more engaged."

If Harper and Prentice are not more engaged, it may be because they already appear to have lost the key battle they came here to wage.

The government playbook for this conference included putting the Kyoto Protocol to rest and signing a new treaty that includes the U.S. and all other major emitters of greenhouse gases.

Jean Chrétien's Liberal government signed the pact in 1997, and now emissions are some 30 per cent above the target Canada was supposed to meet.

One of the side-effects of what appears to be a watered-down deal emerging here is the continuation of the world's first emissions regime, flawed though it may be.

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