|Stephen Harper Vs Kyoto and the Environment
Harper letter called Kyoto a 'socialist scheme'
OTTAWA — A prime minister who now promises to fight climate change once ridiculed the Kyoto accord as a money-sucking socialist scheme and said he would battle to defeat it.
With polls showing the environment is a top priority with voters and Harper keen to bolster his environmental credentials, the letter could prove embarrassing.
It was circulated Tuesday by the Liberals, who said it unmasks Harper as a climate-change denier.
“Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations,” says the letter, signed by Harper.
“Implementing Kyoto will cripple the oil and gas industry, which is essential to the economies of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia . . .
“Workers and consumers everywhere in Canada will lose. THERE ARE NO CANADIAN WINNERS UNDER THE KYOTO ACCORD.”
He also blasted the treaty for targeting carbon dioxide — which he said is “essential to life” — and played down the science of climate change as “tentative and contradictory.”
Harper went on to promise a “battle of Kyoto” in hope of defeating the Chrétien Liberals’ efforts to implement the treaty legislation in the House of Commons.
“But we can’t do it alone. It will take an army of Canadians to beat Kyoto, just as it did to beat (the) Charlottetown (constitutional accord),” he wrote.
These days, Harper avoids criticizing the Kyoto accord, and simply dismisses its targets as unattainable.
Kyoto calls for a six per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2012. Canada’s emission levels have risen 27 per cent since 1990.
The prime minister’s office would not comment on the letter but pointed out that the emission levels occurred under the previous Liberal government.
Now, with public-opinion polls indicating that climate change is becoming a dominant political concern for Canadians, the prime minister is promising serious action.
He intends to introduce a vastly revamped version of his Clean Air Act in the coming months. The original legislation has been ridiculed by opponents and opinion-makers as a work in progress that fails to set reduction targets before 2050.
The Liberals said the letter proves Harper isn’t serious about tackling climate change.
“It’s no wonder Mr. Harper’s sudden change of heart is hard for Canadians to swallow,” said Liberal MP Mark Holland.
“Now, suddenly, because he has seen the polls and realized the political opportunism of going `green,’ the prime minister has launched a new campaign — that of trying to convince Canadians that he actually cares about the environment.
“Well, no one is buying it.”
A new poll released to The Canadian Press suggests Canadians are indeed skeptical about the government’s environmental commitment.
Sixty-four per cent of the 1,023 respondents in the Decima survey said they believe recent Tory announcements are being driven by polls rather than conviction.
The Liberals also came in for criticism on the climate-change file Tuesday.
The NDP, which convinced the Tories to rewrite their Clean Air Act, accused the Liberals of trying to delay the process at a special legislative committee.
The Liberals and Bloc succeeded in gaining a two-week extension that will push the deadline for the committee’s work to March 30.
The NDP says that’s because the Liberals want to make sure the new bill can’t pass before the federal budget — a confidence item which could mean the defeat of the minority government.
“(Liberals) would prefer that nothing gets done in this Parliament with respect to the environment,” said New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen.
“The Liberals are dedicated to the idea that they’ve got a one-trick pony as a leader. (Stephane Dion) must present an environmental cause to Canadians — and they are willing to sacrifice the environment in order for that political gain.”
This is the text of a letter written in 2002 by Stephen Harper to members of his Canadian Alliance party denouncing the Kyoto accord:
We’re on a roll, folks!
The Canadian Alliance is once again setting the agenda in the House of Commons. Look at what happened in less than two months since Parliament reopened:
— We bagged another Liberal cabinet minister when we drove the hapless Lawrence MacAulay to resign for violating the ethics guidelines.
— We broke Jean Chrétien’s chokehold on the House of Commons by getting the election of committee chairs and votes on all private members’ bills.
— We finally (!) got the Liberals to agree to set up a national registry for sex offenders.
But we can’t just relax and declare victory. We’re gearing up for the biggest struggle our party has faced since you entrusted me with the leadership. I’m talking about the “battle of Kyoto” — our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto Accord.
It would take more than one letter to explain what’s wrong with Kyoto, but here are a few facts about this so-called “Accord”:
— It’s based on tentative and contradictory scientific evidence about climate trends.
— It focuses on carbon dioxide, which is essential to life, rather than upon pollutants.
— Canada is the only country in the world required to make significant cuts in emissions. Third World countries are exempt, the Europeans get credit for shutting down inefficient Soviet-era industries, and no country in the Western hemisphere except Canada is signing.
— Implementing Kyoto will cripple the oil and gas industry, which is essential to the economies of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
— As the effects trickle through other industries, workers and consumers everywhere in Canada will lose. THERE ARE NO CANADIAN WINNERS UNDER THE KYOTO ACCORD.
— The only winners will be countries such as Russia, India, and China, from which Canada will have to buy “emissions credits.” Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.
— On top of all this, Kyoto will not even reduce greenhouse gases. By encouraging transfer of industrial production to Third World countries where emissions standards are more relaxed, it will almost certainly increase emissions on a global scale.
For a long time, the Canadian Alliance stood virtually alone in opposing the Kyoto Accord, as Bob Mills, our senior environment critic, waged a valiant battle against it. Now, however, allies are stepping forward — eight of 10 provincial governments, and a broad coalition of businesses across Canada — to help us fight the ``battle of Kyoto.”
Jean Chrétien says he will introduce a resolution to ratify Kyoto into Parliament and get it passed before Christmas. We will do everything we can to stop him there, but he might get it passed with the help of the socialists in the NDP and the separatists in the BQ.
But the “battle of Kyoto” is just beginning. Ratification is merely symbolic; Kyoto will not take effect unless and until it is implemented by legislation. We will go to the wall to stop that legislation and at that point we will be on much stronger procedural ground than in trying to block a mere resolution.
The Reform Party defeated the Charlottetown Accord in an epic struggle in the fall of 1992. Now the Canadian Alliance is leading the battle against the Kyoto Accord!
But we can’t do it alone. It will take an army of Canadians to beat Kyoto, just as it did to beat Charlottetown.
We can’t stop Kyoto just in Parliament. We need your help at all levels. We need you to inform yourself about Kyoto, to discuss it with your friends and neighbours, and to write protest letters to newspapers and the government.
And, yes, we need your gifts of money. The “battle of Kyoto” is going to lead directly into the next election. We need your contribution of $500, or $250, or $100, or whatever you can afford, to help us drive the Liberals from power.
PS: The “battle of Kyoto” shows why the Canadian Alliance is so important to you and to Canada. All the other federal parties are supporting Kyoto (Liberals, NDP, BQ) or speaking out of both sides of their mouth (Tories). Only the Canadian Alliance is strong and fearless enough to block dangerous and destructive schemes like the Charlottetown Accord and the Kyoto Accord.
ANALYZING HARPER'S LETTER
Suzanne MacNevin - January 31st 2007.
Carbon dioxide is NOT essential to life. Oxygen is. Plants "use" carbon dioxide, which there is too much of.
Pollutants polute the environment, they DO NOT contribute to global warming and climate change. Harper is confusing pollutants with green house gases.
Canada is NOT the only country in the world required to make significant cuts in emissions. China, Japan, the United States and the European Union also needs to cut emissions. Third World countries are exempt because they don't produce huge sums of carbon dioxide/green house gases.
Implementing Kyoto will NOT cripple the oil industry. Cutting emissions can be done by making cars more fuel efficient. We will still need oil and gas to run the cars, we just need to make them more efficient. Same goes for factories that need to become more efficient.
Canada does not need to buy "emissions credits". Harper is being ridiculous. If Canada does not meet the Kyoto levels of emissions they can simply withdraw and set a new deadline to comply with Kyoto. Buying so-called credits from other countries is a cop-out.
In conclusion, Harper's reasonings for not backing the Kyoto Accord are based on "fuzzy logic" which doesn't make any real scientific sense.
Environment czar calls firing a 'surprise'
OTTAWA — The abrupt firing of Environment Commissioner Johanne Gelinas, known for her outspoken criticism of both Liberals and Tories on the environment file, has set off a political storm on Parliament Hill.
Gelinas, whose last report urged a massive scale-up of efforts to combat climate change, learned of her dismissal Tuesday from an online news report, said a source.
Gelinas herself said her dismissal came as a “complete surprise.”
Environmentalists and opposition critics praised the commissioner’s work and said they would be demanding answers about her departure.
“Mme. Gelinas was a true advocate for the environment,” said NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen. “She spoke with an independent mind. We’re searching for an explanation.”
John Bennett of the Climate Action Network said it was a sad day for the environment.
Auditor General Sheila Fraser, Gelinas’ boss, issued a news release saying Gelinas was leaving “to pursue other opportunities.”
But Liberal environment critic David McGuinty said Fraser made it clear to the environment committee at a private meeting Tuesday that she felt Gelinas had been taking on too much of an advocacy role.
“I know Ms. Gelinas very well, she is an extremely capable woman who has served the country well, it bothers me enormously,” said McGuinty.
The environment commissioner’s job description, as described on the Auditor General’s website, seems to call for an advocacy role.
“Encouraging the government to be more accountable for greening its policies, operations, and programs is a key to the commissioner’s mandate,” says the job description.
But Fraser apparently thought Gelinas crossed the line.
Rumours also swirled Tuesday about a personality conflict between Gelinas and Fraser, and possible political interference from the Conservatives.
In a statement late Tuesday, Gelinas acknowledged she and the Auditor General have had a “difference of opinion” for the past year on her role as environment commissioner.
But she said their discussions on the matter “were in private, with no interference whatsoever from the government of Canada and its representatives.”
Gelinas said that while she was considering a “future departure” from her post, ` today’s announcement from Mrs. Fraser was premature and came as a complete surprise to me.”
In her last report, Gelinas called on the Tory government to set short-term targets for cutting greenhouse emissions, to replace those of the Kyoto Protocol which it has rejected.
“The current government has announced that Canada cannot realistically meet its Kyoto target. If so, then new targets should take its place,” her report said.
Gelinas noted in the September report that greenhouse emissions from Alberta’s oil sands could double between 2004 and 2015, and called for a strategy to deal with the problem.
“First and foremost, the government needs to clearly state how it intends to reconcile the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions against expected growth in the oil and gas sector.”
Charles Caccia, a former Liberal environment minister who sits on the environment commissioner’s advisory committee, said the government must have known about and at least tacitly approved the firing.
“I cannot see how she (Fraser) would go ahead without protecting her back and without letting the government know . . . or without picking up some signals of criticism of the commissioner from the government and using them as an excuse to proceed with a dismissal.”
He said that Fraser should have consulted Parliament, to which she reports, before taking such a drastic action.
“If she took this decision on her own she failed to consult the very institutions to which she is responsible.”
A spokesman for Environment Minister John Baird said the authority to replace the environment commissioner rests entirely with the auditor general.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said Fraser has for some time been unhappy with the independence shown by Gelinas and has already taken measures to reduce the commissioner’s role.
“It’s been coming for some time. Every since the commissioner filed her report on climate change there have been efforts to shut down the office and curtail her role.”
The Commons environment committee has called Fraser to testify at an open meeting Wednesday to explain Gelinas’ departure.
Margo Booth, a spokeswoman for Fraser, said it was her impression that Gelinas had left voluntarily, but she could not say so categorically. Booth denied any possibility of political interference.
“The office of the auditor general is entirely independent and there would be no room at all for political interference in any of its activities.”
Cullen said that Gelinas’ firing will make any future commissioner more cautious in approaching the job.
“If a cloud of doubt remains that there’s partisanship or political interference, Canadians can no longer rely on the information they’re given.”
John Godfrey, chair of the Liberal caucus environment committee, said the environment commissioner should be independent and separate from the auditor general’s office.
“Given the rising importance of the environment, (we) need a totally independent officer of the Parliament . . . who reports directly to Parliament, not through the auditor general’s office.”
Currently the commissioner is appointed by the auditor general and reports to Parliament on behalf of the auditor general.
'Green' Tories puzzle voters: Poll
OTTAWA – The Conservative government's newfound green policy push is viewed with skepticism by many Canadians, a new poll by Decima Research suggests.
But the flip side of the public's jaundiced opinion of Tory motivations isn't exactly a warm embrace of Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's environmental record.
The national survey, provided to The Canadian Press, indicates there are plenty of doubts about all the major federal political parties when it comes to environmental policy.
"Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have won this debate about which party . . . is decidedly better from an environmental standpoint," Bruce Anderson, Decima's CEO, said today.
``So there's room for the Conservatives to feel that they can make headway on this issue."
That's the good news for the government.
But the poll has a distinct downside for Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he attempts to reposition the Conservatives on the file.
By a four-to-one margin – 64 per cent to 17 per cent – a large majority of the 1,023 respondents in the survey conducted Jan. 25-28 said they believe recent Tory environment announcements are being driven by public opinion rather than genuine commitment.
It was the dominant opinion in every region of the country, and even among self-identified Conservative supporters. Some 42 per cent of Tory voters in the poll called the government's green thrust poll-driven, while 37 per cent credited a deeper commitment.
On an emerging motherhood issue like environmental stewardship, that's a potentially crippling level of cynicism.
"The challenge for the Conservatives, on this issue and on a few others, is essentially the same one: it's about shared values," said Anderson.
"The Conservatives need to connect with more voters on the basis of `we share the same value system as you do."'
The Liberals historically have been able to stake out this territory, said the pollster, even when their specific policy actions didn't distinguish them.
The poll found an even split on Liberal Leader Stephen Dion's record as a former environment minister: Some 37 per cent agreed with Conservative charges that Dion's record was weak, while 35 per cent disagreed – and fully 28 per cent had not formed an opinion.
The numbers may help explain why the Conservatives are rolling out hard-hitting television ads targeting Dion.
"They have to both reduce the apprehensions about what a Conservative government would mean for the environment and perhaps increase doubts about whether a Liberal party government would be any better," said Anderson.
"It looks to me like the Conservatives are trying to accomplish both of those tacks."
When Decima asked how respondents would vote if the environment was the only issue in the next election, the Green Party led with 24 per cent support.
Under this hypothetical scenario, the Conservatives and Liberals were essentially tied, 17-16, while the NDP attracted just 10 per cent support and the Bloc Quebecois only four per cent.
The squeeze play on New Democrats – the one party that has consistently championed environmental policy in the Commons – is causing deep frustration among some party supporters.
Jamey Heath, a former NDP communications director, posted an op-ed rant on the left-wing rabble.ca website recently, excoriating those who criticize the NDP for attempting to help the Tories rewrite their much-criticized Clean Air Act.
"That's how low this debate has sunk," wrote Heath. "Just scream `Harper Helper' and watch facts and possibilities fly out the window, all because that's how Liberals say politics work."