Friday, November 30, 2007

Dion On Bali

Interesting comments from Dion, on why is attending the Bali climate conference:
"My role is not to be a substitute for the government of Canada. My role is to try to push everyone to get a better result,"_said Dion.

...said his office has already been flooded by e-mails and phone calls from international politicians, business leaders and environmental organizations, who hope to meet with him at the conference in search of solutions to stop humans from causing global warming.

"I'm not going to claim that 180 countries want to see me. But, yes, there is movement," said Dion. "As the former chairperson of the conference, with a big network and a degree of expertise, I will see what I can do to create some good momentum."

At the Montreal summit, environmentalists have credited Dion with brokering an agreement that would prevent a gap between the end of the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period in 2012 and the next set of binding targets.

I'm taking Dion at his word here, I believe his first concern is pushing the agenda. The critics have argued that Dion does a disservice by embarrassing the government on the international stage. I would counter, that the government has nothing to worry about if their rhetoric manifests itself in action. Unlike his hyper-partisan counterpart, I think Dion would actually endorse something substantive. What is the problem with some scrutiny, given the fact we are "leading the world" with our "aggressive plan"?


ottlib said...

Mr. Dion's function in Bali should not be to embarrass the government. They will not need any assistance in doing that when they realize the tactics that worked in other venues will not work in Bali.

I am really wondering how the media will spin the events in Bali but I digress.

Mr. Dion should go there with the goal of advancing the higher objective.

The reason is simple. Canada will eventually get on the prevention-of-climate-change bandwagon because either Stephane Dion will become PM or Stephen Harper will finally realize that doing so is a necessity to hanging on to his job.

So Mr. Dion should be pushing that agenda at home in the HofC but he should be working, in a non-partisan fashion, with his many contacts in his environmental network to promote it internationally.

If it so happens that approach ends up embarrassing the government anyway then it will be a reflection on the government and not Mr. Dion.

Gayle said...

I do not care if Dion embarrasses the government. What I care about is the government embarrassing the country.

Karen said...

While I'm with Gayle in that I do not care if Dion embarrasses the government, (because I think it's high time someone did), I'm also with ottlib and do not think that is his role.

He's a known entity who with his history can direct others to push back against the garbage this government is spewing.

He need not take the spotlight, but rather he should do what he does well. Negotiate with logic.

Allow others to suggest who swayed them. Allow others to tell the world how they came to their conclusions, whether or not that includes Dion.

Dion may become more prominent than just behind the scenes, but that remains to be seen.

ottlib is right though, this is a different kind of meeting.

Though ottlib, wouldn't you agree that they have been laying the groundwork for some time now?

Tomm said...


You don't care if Dion embarrasses the government?

What if Condoleesa Rice was trailed by Hillary looking for mirrors on a Middle East trip?

What about if Rudd had tracked Howard to Canada and looked for cameras and sound bites?

Admit that it is a ridiculous situation. Then admit that the problem relates to a difference of view on an issue. Then admit that you are such a non-Canadian that you don't mind embarrassing your own country.

This sounds a little like a movie on PETA and Igrid Newkirk I saw last night.

If Dion is going to network and help crystalize international understanding on forward movement, as a Canadian who cares about the earth's environment, I welcome him.

Remember that the Canadian position in Bali is for comprehensive and binding targets for all, that are the equivalent of 50% by 2050. Also remember that Canada is looking for concrete paths post 2012, involvement in technical developments, and adding reduction of tropical deforestation to the package.

I think these positions are consistent with Dion's stated objectives, so there should be no reason to huck darts.


ottlib said...


I really do not think this government is that forward thinking.

As well, I do not think this government is experienced enough to realize they need to do alot of groundwork before a meeting like Bali.

This government believes the environment and climate change are domestic issues that need to be neutralized. They do not believe they are international issues and they have acted accordingly.

So no, they are not really laying the groundwork for the Bali meeting. I believe they have figured out what their negotiating position will be but they are going to find their negotiating partners will be much less accommodating to them than in previous meetings and I believe they will also find them much better prepared for the meeting than our government.

The final outcome of this meeting in not intended to be a bland communique from all of the participants. So, the dynamic of the meeting will be much different from anything Mr. Harper and Mr. Baird have ever experienced on the international scene.

Throw in Mr. Dion with his network and experience and it is going to be very interesting to see how this dynamic plays out in the next few days. I am very interested to see how this government will react to this new kind of meeting and its ever shifting landscape.

Of course, alot of how this will play out domestically will depend on our media and it is no secret how useless I find our media. So, this government could still escape without too much damage. Then again they were not too kind to this government during the Commonwealth meeting so we will have to wait and see.

ottlib said...


It has been a general practice in this country that the Canadian delegation to an international meeting like the Bali meeting include Members of the Opposition.

The Liberals took Opposition MPs along to almost every international meeting during their tenure.

It is true that they only have observer status but they do attend usually without much notice from anybody else.

So, if this government would have been smart and followed a long standing practice the fact Mr. Dion will be attending the meeting would not be news. It would have been ignored by everybody.

It was the government's decision to freeze him and any other opposition member out of the Canadian delegation that made this a story.

So if Mr. Dion does embarrass the government they can thank themselves for making Mr. Dion's attendence at this meeting more significant that it would normally be.

Sometimes Tomm, this government's hyper-partisanship can be very counter-productive and this has the potential for being one of those situations.

Gayle said...

Tomm - I will be honest and tell you I did not read your post past the first line.

You are so blinded by this issue you cannot recognize a tongue in cheek statement when you see it.

My point is that Harper has embarrassed this country with his inaction on the environment.

I have seen nothing from you but knee-jerk reaction on this subject for days.

A few days ago you accused me of reacting simply on an ideological basis. When I countered that argument you ignored it.

If you want to discuss this issue with me you can start there.

Tomm said...


You are absolutely right. But please recall the fiasco in Nairobi. The conservative's have been acting as partisan's (certainly more than I would like), but they are matched by their House opponents, partisan stupidity for partisan stupidity.

I hope that this trip sees a concerted position and that results in greater trust into the future. I hope this, but it just doesn't seem likely.

Regardless, if it happens or not, I think we both strongly believe in the importance of international agreements on the issue of Greenhouse Gases. Any agreements that move us forward will be welcomed by me.


Tomm said...


I'm sorry you didn't read any further. I invite you to jump across the stuff that bothers you and read a little further down.

We actually agree on quite a bit of substance, just not so much on the rhetoric.

To be honest, I think the CPC walked into government absolutely despising Environment Canada and the ENGO cabel that had been constructed and had created almost religious fervor around environmental issues.

It has taken them considerable time to relax sufficiently to start using their own people and to begin considering some issues in the broader context. For EC to be actively working with ENGOs that many conservative's (small c) saw as being disguised socialist/collectivists was a real difficult jump ideaologically for the CPC. I think there are still huge cultural gaps between the public servants and the politicians, but that is an outsiders view.

I think they are warming up to the needs and to the pathways to act. I am actually expecting quite a bit out of Baird at Bali, as you can probably tell.


Jay said...

Our government doesn't require Dion to look bad, they do quite well on their own. Just put Harper or Baird in the spotlight and we have a punchline for a rather bad joke.

If anything Dion will at least give everyone hope that Canada WILL be back.


Anonymous said...

The whole conference will just be a big joke anyway. But I can't wait to see Binky boy dion bang on his chest saying he invented environmental activism or something along those lines....kinda like how al gore invented the internet...yeah...

Karen said...

Tomm, the difference here is Dion's motive is not to embarrass the government but to do the right thing vis a vis the environment.

Contrast that with how Harper wrote op-ed's and travelled to the US to speak to groups with the sole purpose of embarrassing Martin and co. He did it on this issue, he did it concerning Iraq, in fact he went farther. He demeaned the country with terms like socialist schemes, etc., etc.

Steve V said...


Not only did the government shun the opposition, per usual protocol, but they also left out the environmental experts from the official delegation. This practice started in Nairobi, so there is no justification as you lay out. What is happening here, the government is attempting to stifle any other opinion besides their own, and because they don't enjoy any support politically or from the climate change community, they are forced to exclude everyone. Attempting to silence the scientific community in Canada is where your argument falls apart, because these people aren't partisan, unless of course simple math has become politicized.

You will remember, that when this government took office, they were the one's to cut and slash, fail to consult and seek a relationship with the experts. If there is hostility now, it only stems from the simple realization that the government isn't a friend of the environment.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Al Gore will be in Bali too.

I remember when Baird try to portray it that Gore agreed with the CPC environment plan - to the point the Gore had to write and explain they were totally misrepresenting him.

Bush has just over a year, Australia has a new PM - Harper is really on a treadmill here.

wilson said...

Who says Dion speaks for Canadians?
Canadians voted Lib with Martin, not Dion, as Lib leader.
And we all know where Dion's numbers are in Canadian leadership polls.

Who says the Liberal enviro plan is what Canadians want?
Where is the plan?
How can Canadians support something they haven't seen, except in morsals?

This is what Canadians KNOW:

-Liberals and Dion could not make Kyoto work.
We are disgracefully 33% over the targets self-imposed by the previous government, not the current government.
If something doesn't work, you don't stick with it, you change it.

-The Harper government has taken the position in both NATO (Afghanistan) and Bali that ALL the players need to be at the table and sign on, other wise success is doubtful.

That is a consistant, straight forward approach that Canadians do grasp.

Contrary to what Ottlib says, and likely many of the partisans think, the current government is prepared, and has laid the ground work for a GLOBAL climate change plan, in the last 3 conferences.

Baird is reported to have numerous meetings with the big emitters, China, US and India.
Rudd, new aussie PM, is also onside with ALL countries signing on to binding targets.

Canadians expect the enviro militants to attend these meetings and condemn everything that falls short of wiping out the developed nations bank accounts to save the planet.
IMO, they would expect a man who wants to be PM, to not take a one sided view.
To not try and upstage and/or embarrass Canada's sitting government.
Dion should send a rep, so as he doesn't wear any fallout from a Canadian delegation marching against their own country.

Dion: 3 minutes in the penalty box for interferrence.

Anonymous said...

IMO, the majority of Canadians will agree with Rex

h/t socialistgulag


Gayle said...

"Contrast that with how Harper wrote op-ed's and travelled to the US to speak to groups with the sole purpose of embarrassing Martin and co. He did it on this issue, he did it concerning Iraq, in fact he went farther. He demeaned the country with terms like socialist schemes, etc., etc."


For the conservatives to turn around now and whine about the opposition acting to undermine their message on the environment is priceless - particularly considering the majority of Canadians support the three parties who support a stronger environmental policy.

Tomm said...


Thank you. I didn't realize you considered me "priceless".

May I take that as a compliment?


Tomm said...


I'm not inside EC, so really can't profess any direct knowledge. I will take your view on faith. CPC can clearly be criticized for (apparent) arrogance and ignorance.

However, what is YOUR goal? Is it to improve greenhouse gas emissions around the world or is your goal political?

At some point you are going to have to decide because the two goals are not the same.

We have a federal government. You can sit back and criticize them until their support drops and then work like a dog to get them turfed, which may or may not succeed.

At that point you can then scream bloody murder that nothing has happened for 2-4 years. Nothing wrong with any of that, Lord knows that the CPC has tied that can to the Liberal's and turnabout is fair play.

Is that YOU? Is that what you want?

Are your goals political? Do you wish we had central control of our energy sector? If you want dramatic changes to greenhouse gases, is that what has to be done?

Have you thought this through, and if so, what else is there behind your views?

I would be interested in reading more depth from you given your obvious knowledge, interests, and strongly held views. Who knows, perhaps you can change my views that way.


Gayle said...

Tomm - actually I was referring to the CPC, not their supporters, but you can take it any way you want - just so long as you take my point too. :)

Tomm said...


I did get your point.

I really wasn't following all of this that closely prior to 2005 so have to beg ignorance on CPC antics.

My interests were for a more libertarian, more challenging, less social engineering, less politically correct government. So, the Harper-Martin contrast was what piqued my interest.

I started following the flow of national politics a little closer and, of course, was exhilarated with Harper's win. Excepting the partisanship (that is truly a multi-party problem), the media, and some of the environmental foot dragging, I've been pretty pleased.

Since its getting close to Christmas, I also wish Harper had more talent in his caucus, and started including "open votes".


Anonymous said...

Steve V - please talk about this today. A Canadian federal judge has deemed the US legally unsafe for foreigners. It is underreported, according to this diary, which is at this moment on the recommended list. - Blackstar

On the Bali thing, I am very happy Dion is going to this event!

Steve V said...

"Is it to improve greenhouse gas emissions around the world or is your goal political?"


You probably already know this, but I didn't vote Liberal in the last election primarily because of the failure on the environment. I voted NDP, despite Layton's obnoxious campaign, because I read their platform on the environment and thought it the best (I voted Green the election prior). This issue is beyond partisanship, and I hope my voting pattern proves that when you look at my criticisms on the environment.

On the centralized front, I have always believed in another layer of government, with less direct self-interest, to make better "calls". As a realist, I know this approach doesn't necessarily apply to the Canadian reality, but that said, I don't share the fear mongering that the federal government represents "them".