The Harper government did itself an injury this week when it boycotted a celebration for the Nobel Prize-winning scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The reception, on Parliament Hill last Tuesday, was hosted by the Swedish Ambassador and featured speeches from all party leaders save Prime Minister Stephen Harper. As Green Party leader Elizabeth May noted, this was a petty snub:
“When your fellow countrymen win the Nobel Peace Prize, you rise above the fact that you didn’t like their advice,” May said.
Consider, as well, that U.S. President George Bush DID rise above his own political inclinations when he welcomed IPCC Nobel laureates to the White House last year and you might well agree that Prime Minister Harper is being particularly graceless by refusing to acknowledge these scientists and the quality of their contribution.
But this is more than a question of bad manners. Where the fortunes of his own part are concerned, the Prime Minister continues to be out of step with Canadians on the issue of global warming. Eighty per cent of Canadians are on record as saying that they trust the IPCC scientists on climate change. More than one-third of respondents told the Globe and Mail last year that they think global warming is the biggest threat facing humankind. As the Prime Minister works to manoeuvre the Opposition into forcing a spring election, you would think that he (like his U.S. counterpart) would make an effort to at least appear as if he was taking this issue seriously.
Last week, he did not, and he embarrassed himself and the country in the process. We can only hope that he notices soon how far off the beaten track his party is on global warming – that he takes a close look at where Canadians want to go on this issue and then rushes back to the front of the parade. It seems clear enough that we cannot expect leadership from this administration, but we’d settle for cooperation.