Conservative Party Leader (and prime minister in waiting) Stephen Harper appeared to confirm last night in a CBC interview that he will remove Canada as a signatory to the Kyoto Agreement should he win election on Monday, Feb. 23, 2006.
Harper argues – rightly – that Canada wasted the last decade while the Liberal government of then-prime minister Jean Chretien dithered over how to achieve Kyoto targets. Chretien’s biggest fear during the late ’90s was that he would further alienate Albertans, whose robust economy rests heavily on fossil fuels. Chretien was also denied his usual ally in Ontario, as the then-Conservative provincial government refused to participate in any negotiations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Somewhat to his credit, Chretien endorsed the Kyoto accord as an outgoing gesture. But his successor, Prime Minister Paul Martin also deserves criticism for failing to initiate any specific action that would reduce Canada’s GHG output..
So, for the past 12 years, Canada has had a government that paid lipservice to climate change while failing to take action. Now we face a new administration that will join the U.S. in trying to block any fixed international targets for greenhouse gas reduction. As Mr. Harper said, “In fairness, (climate change) is not one of my top priorities.”