If a government minister were to resign every time the opposition disagreed based on policy, the Conservatives would be out of cabinet ministers by now...
The point is you can't reasonably call for the resignation of a government minister based on incompetence, when the only evidence you have of incompetence is that you disagree with them.
Agreed. I don't support Vic Toews or Peter McKay, but this fact doesn't translate into any support that they should resign. When the question moves to Rona Ambrose however, there is ample evidence to suggest that she is woefully incompetent, not to mention her preference for misleading (lying is more apt, but let's be civil).
Rona Ambrose's appearance before committee:
"I have in front of me a list of at least $100 million of money that was used to purchase international credits," Ambrose said in what appeared to be a prepared response to a fellow Conservative MP's question.
She then recited a number of overseas projects and their dollar values.
"For 13 years this was the only plan, to buy international credits," Ambrose told the committee.
However, when Sun Media initially asked for the project list cited by the minister, the story began to change.
Officials in the minister's office on Tuesday said Ambrose alone had a copy and they couldnÂt provide it, although they said the information came from departmental officials. A spokesman for the department said he knew nothing about such a list and referred matters back to the minister's office.
Shannon Haggerty, Ambrose's new director of communications, then offered up two departmental officials to explain the project list, which turned out to be from the Canada Climate Change Development Fund, administered by the Canadian International Development Agency, or CIDA.
"It's actually not buying credits," one bureaucrat explained. "It's the government subsidizing industry to work on these (climate change) projects."
So how much money has the government of Canada, past or present, spent buying carbon credits?
"As a government, none," said the official. "The government has not purchased outright a Kyoto credit."
Two conclusions, Ambrose lied to committee, or Ambrose has no understanding of her portfolio. Which is worse? Misleading a parliamentary committee is a serious offense, and given the fact that Ambrose was able to list all the allocations, you would have to think she was privy to the origin. However, let's give Ambrose the benefit of the doubt, that leaves blatant incompetence as the only answer.
Before committee, again:
An academic from a progressive think tank based in Washington is furious that Environment Minister Rona Ambrose used recent remarks by her to attack the Kyoto protocol on climate change.
Daphne Wysham, a fellow from the Institute for Policy Studies, said Ambrose is using her think tank's criticism of the Clean Development Mechanism to abandon Canada's responsibility to live up to its commitment under the international agreement.
"I'm horrified by that," Wysham said in a phone interview. "I certainly don't want to see Canada pulling out, did not want to the U.S. pulling out. We want to see Kyoto strengthened."
Ambrose made reference to the think tank on Thursday during a parliamentary committee arguing that the mechanism, which allows countries to get credits for investments in developing nations to reduce emissions, had no accountability.
Misleading or lack of knowledge?
Ambrose has pulled quotes from several organizations to deflect criticism and curry favor. Ambrose used a Canadian Lung Association release as proof of support for her Green Plan. Ambrose stood before the H of C and mislead parliament, because in fact the Canadian Lung Association was critical of the Conservatives, hardly supportive:
The Lung Association has serious concerns that the proposed approach under the Clean Air Act will not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases quickly enough to lessen the health effects of climate change. Warmer temperatures caused by these emissions contribute to the difficulties of Canadians suffering from respiratory illness, for instance, by increasing the frequency and severity of smog conditions in urban centres.
"We are very concerned with the proposed targets for greenhouse gases and the use of intensity-based standards in the short and medium terms, since these will result in a continuing increase in total emissions," said Dr. Barbara MacKinnon, Director of Environmental Research for the New Brunswick Lung Association. "We think both the targets and the time frame need to be revised to bring much earlier net reductions."
Misleading again, or an issue with reading comprehension, neither of which is flattering.
How about changing the language on government websites to manipulate? Check:
The Conservative government has been using federal resources to mislead Canadians about the facts of global warming and to further undermine Canada's international commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, said Liberal Environment Critic John Godfrey today.
"It is appalling to watch this government systematically misrepresent the Kyoto Accord over the last six months," said Godfrey.
Mr. Godfrey was reacting to changes by the Conservative government to Environment Canada's website that deliberately sought to imply that there was a controversy about climate change within the scientific community.
The government incorporated the following paragraph into the department's webpage defining the Greenhouse Effect:
"There is a great deal of uncertainty associated with climate predictions and, although temperature changes during this century are consistent with global warming predictions, they remain within the range of natural variability."
The government removed the paragraph late last week, after receiving a public complaint from a representative of the scientific community.
One criteria for demanding resignation is the idea of scandalous behavior. If the above examples don't suggest a pattern of overt deception, then the bar is set far too low. If you reject lying, you are left with serious incompetence, take your choice, both give weight to calls for resignation.
Finally, people may have noticed the first positive news stories about Ambrose in quite some time, following the wrap-up in Nairobi. Ambrose has been given some credit for this comment:
Asked whether she was changing her mind about Kyoto, Ambrose made an ambiguous reply, saying she was "learning."
My friend Olaf suggests that wanting to learn is a desirable attribute of a thirsty mind. However, in my view "learning" is a frank admission that Ambrose is in over her head. This comment is consistent with Ambrose's desire to consult with industry in the coming years to understand the solutions. Everyone knows the dynamics, the industries are well known and discussions on this topic have taken place for the last decade. Canada doesn't have the benefit of waiting while Rona Ambrose gets her doctorate. Does Elizabeth May have to "learn"?
The common theme of this past round in Nairobi, where does Canada stand? Other countries expressed confusion about Canada's position, and Ambrose spent most of her time doing "damage control". Does it not speak to the issue of competence that our allies were largely unaware of our policy? Shouldn't government officials have been working the diplomatic phones with our allies to forcefully argue our position and avoid any embarrassing perceptions? Who did the groundwork prior to Nairobi? Apparently nobody, and Canada's reputation was tarnished.
Rona Ambrose is incompetent, it's as simple as that. If you assume a job, and replace someone who was fired, is it acceptable ten months later to say "the last guy really screwed this up"? That tactic might work straight away, but after awhile I doubt the excuse would hold much water with any supervisor. Rona Ambrose should resign, and it goes well beyond her party membership.