Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking today at the close of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Sydney, said, “I’m also very pleased that the Sydney Declaration mirrors the Canadian climate change approach on many levels.”
By which he clearly meant: We’re not planning to do anything about it, either.
Canada’s performance on this file has been – and continues to be – an international embarrassment, a mix of inaction and deception.
Harper’s predecessor governments, in the hands of Liberal Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, helped negotiate and then signed on to the Kyoto accord without making a single convincing policy gesture toward meeting the attendant emission reduction targets. Martin was even rude enough to lecture U.S. President George Bush for his failure to support Kyoto, even as the U.S. was outperforming Canada in slowing its rate of CO2 emission.
Prime Minister Harper, who in the Liberal days denied that global warming was even a problem, now claims that his government is taking the issue seriously, but is “balancing environmental protection and economic growth.” His idea of balance is to allow Canada’s biggest and fastest growing emitter – the oil producers working the Alberta’s tar sands – a blanket exemption to any (even voluntary) emission reduction targets.
The most charitable interpretation of the Harper government’s position on this file is that it reflects a certain cognitive dissonance, the “uncomfortable tension that may result from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one’s belief.”
The least charitable is that Harper is a leading participant in an oil-sponsored international effort to prevent immediate action against an urgent global environmental threat – i.e., that he is lying through his teeth.
I would prefer to think that my Prime Minister is dilusional rather than dishonest, but woefully in the current circumstances, it amounts to the same thing.