Saturday, May 26, 2007

Where Is Canada?

In the past days, various reports have warned that the Bush administration will reject the climate change proposals at the G8 summit next month. Today, there is further confirmation:
The United States is preparing to reject new targets on climate change at a Group of Eight summit next month, dashing German and British hopes for a new global pact on carbon emissions, according to a document released by environmentalists.

Though Ms. Merkel and outgoing British leader Tony Blair — who made climate change a key priority for his final weeks in office — have pressed President George W. Bush to back a new agreement, the document claimed the White House is “fundamentally opposed” to many of the European objectives.

Every time I read one of these news items, I look for some reference to Canada, only to find nothing. Other countries are on record, yet Canada is consistently silent. Why?

Today, Stephane Dion asks the same question:
Canada must stand with the world's leading countries in the fight against climate change and object the U.S. government's efforts to thwart a global action plan on carbon emissions, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said in an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Saturday.

“I am writing to urge you to recognize the moral imperative of urgent action, to seize the mantle of international leadership, and to speak out forcefully against the United States' efforts to dilute the global action plan,” said Mr. Dion.

“I am deeply troubled by Canada's silence in the face of reports that U.S. President George Bush is seeking to weaken the proposed G-8 Declaration on Climate Change and Energy Efficiency,” Mr. Dion wrote in the letter.

“Your government should not continue to approach this challenge as merely a domestic partisan political issue,” said Mr. Dion.

I find the silence particularly worrisome, because there seems to be a void between the rhetoric and reality. If you take John Baird at his word, the Canadian Green Plan is one of the most aggressive proposals on the world stage. People will remember Mr. Baird at the last G8 summit on climate change in March, taking the lead:
Environment Minister John Baird says he hopes Canada will help spearhead a number of environmental initiatives that go beyond the scope of the Kyoto Protocol

"We want to be part of, and provide leadership around the world for, negotiation of a new pact that will go farther than Kyoto in the years ahead."

We know that the Germans and British have "taken the lead", trying to exert pressure on the Americans. How do we reconcile Baird's bravado with the silence? If our plan is so ambitious, if we want "provide leadership", then surely we should seize on this opportunity. Baird has gone so far as to argue that Canada's plan goes well beyond what EU countries are proposing. A statement of truth translates into easy acceptance of the lesser targets proposed at the G8 summit. Canada should have no problem joining in on the chorus, further isolating the American position.

The silence begs a question. Is Canada sitting on the sidelines, allowing the Americans to take the heat, all the while quietly supporting their opposition? Sometimes you say more when you say nothing. We all know Baird has recently visited Washington to discuss the various issues, so you would have to conclude intimate knowledge of the American position. If we take this government at its word, if the plan is what they say it is, then there is no logical reason why Canada shouldn't be a the front of the line, demanding action. That we hear nothing, is telling.


knb said...

“Discussions will be more than difficult,” Mr. Gabriel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine's Sunday edition. “Although many in the USA would like to see a different policy toward global warming, the administration in Washington has not embraced this movement. For that reason, success in Heiligendamm will be very difficult.”

Add Canada to that list and it will be impossible. I have a bad feeling about this. I think Baird is getting ready for the performance of his lifetime.

Tomm said...


What do you think Baird is going to do?


knb said...

I think he's going to side with the US Tomm, then spin, spin, spin.

I understand you do not like Kyoto, but it is the only International framework we have. The US is doing the world no favours by rejecting it out of hand. Instead, they are providing China and India with examples of how to not co-operate.

Fair enough, offer different solutions, have discussions, tweak it, but don't dismiss it and sign on.

Unilaterally deciding that the the concensus of nations is wrong, hasn't stood Bush in good stead thus far...on ALL issues. If we follow that ridiculous road, I guess all I can say is that maybe it'll mean that Harp and Co. will be gone sooner than I thought. That's a good thing, in the meantime however, we've wasted precious time.

Steve V said...

This is post-Kyoto. Whatever the international community agrees on, the bottomline is meeting a target level. Baird professes that Canada is engaging on a path that will outpace the committment of EU nations. If that is true, then we can support anything, if there are elements we don't agree with, that is irrelevant, because we can meet the targets. Right?

Kyoto has become some crutch for convenience. If Canada has new proposals to offer in the next phase, why haven't they bothered to summit any to the United Nations, intentionally missing deadlines? Put up or shut up, if our Green Plan is what they say it is, then we should have no problem supporting further emissions targets.

Steve V said...

This is the statement that the Americans can't support:

""We firmly agree that resolute and concerted international action is urgently needed in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and sustain our common basis of living."

"To this end we will, in the face of the U.N. Climate Change Conference at the end of this year, send a clear message on the further development of the international regime to combat climate change."

What exactly is wrong with the above from Canada's perspective? How many times has Baird used the word "urgent" or working with the international community? Why hasn't Canada come out and endorsed this version of the communique?

knb said...

Sorry Steve, I read the post too quickly.

I stand by my Baird comment though and agree with you that the silence is telling.

I just have a bad feeling that Canada is going to do the wrong thing. What do you support smoke and mirrors with? Spin.

Steve V said...


I hope I'm wrong, but something smells fishy here. Rumors about Asia-Pacific, failing to submit proposals, banning experts from the Canadian delegation, silence. I don't get it, because nothing is written in stone, Canada can participate and offer ideas, within the premise that we need to act now- Baird's favorite talking point.

What really worries me, Baird's first concrete test to set the tone, and they rollover.

Anonymous said...

Since the Americans accomplished far more on the environmental file than Canada did during the Liberal regime, Dion is just pissing in the wind - he has zero credibility on the environment. Ranting against the US does bring out the bigot vote though, so that may help party prospects.

Wadard said...

Do something: :::[Online petition - America, join the G8 Climate Deal]

Read more: :::[US to sink G8 Summit climate change deal, not CO2]