UN Secretary-General Scolds Canadian Leader for Backward Climate Policy and Inaction
Yesterday the mouths and smartphones on Parliament Hill in Ottawa were all a-Twitter as the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon dropped by the capital to have a few choice words with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Although the official UN “daily briefing” described the subject of the meeting in vague terms–”the importance of the relationship between the United Nations and Canada [which] is particularly significant this year as Canada will soon host the G8 and G20 meetings”–it was too, er, diplomatic to delve into the nitty gritty details.
Suffice it to say that the message delivered to the lugubrious Canadian PM was not a pat on the back. Among the agenda items that were at least alluded to officially were “several challenges that need to be faced in the coming months, including the threat posed by climate change, the efforts underway to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the need to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”
Before entering the private meeting with Prime Minister Harper, the UN Secretary-General reiterated his main talking point to the media, saying that “Canada has a special role and special responsibility to play. That is what I am going to emphasize here.”
But on the sticky issue of the 1997 Kyoto accord on reducing cgreenhouse gas emissions to which Canada was a signatory, Ban’s comments were a clear demonstration of the ‘more is less’ style of media relations: “I urge Canada to comply fully with the targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol. You can strengthen your mitigation target for the future.”
According to the CBC national television news coverage, the UN leader was “greeted by a round of applause when he delivered his message to hundreds of academics, diplomats and civil society groups, telling them climate change threatens mankind’s survival”
On Monday of this week, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity released its quadrennial report which warned in dire and unequivocal language that “too many of the world’s plants and animals — and the wild places that support them — are at risk of collapse.”
That report’s ominous tone put the UN Secretary-General’s meeting with Harper yesterday in a more urgent context.
Hardly surprising given its findings that “frogs and other amphibians are most at risk of extinction, coral reefs are the species deteriorating most rapidly and the survival of nearly a quarter of all plant species is threatened” despite the earnest words of a 1993 UN convention which, like the Kyoto accord four years later, was entered into by most of the UN member states. And like the Kyoto accord, the biological diversity declaration also sought to achieve “a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national levels.”
Enter Canadian neo-con ideologue turned hockey fan and Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, the whose conservative views on global environment and climate change protocols are slightly less retrograde than, say, those of the late Sadaam Hussein.
After extending a reception less enthusiastic that what might have been given to a door-to-door canvasser for Greenpeace or the Bloc Québecois (the sovereigntist party that holds a significant proportion of seats in Canada’s federal House of Commons), Harper was characteristically bland following his sit-down with the head of the New York clime families.
Tight-lipped and with his trademark twisted sneer auditioning as a smile, Harper did not provide any output on what was really chatted over in the closed meeting, much less comment about the pointed barbs made later by Ban about Canada’s failure to meet the 1997 Kyoto emission reduction targets.
As for the G8 summit in Muskoka next month, the PM said only that: “I anticipate that a range of subject matters will be talked about, including climate change. This government’s position is clear. We support the Copenhagen Accord, which for the first time includes all major emitters.”
You Can Take the Conservative Party Out of the CCRAP, But You Can’t….
But even in spite of his brave understatements, Harper is obviously feeling the heat (no global warming pun intended). That’s because his own past pronouncements, written by Coleman lamplight during his “dark period” on the prairies in the political wilderness that was the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party (CCRAP)–the wild and wingy predecessor to the re-branded Conservative Party amalgam he know fronts–come back to bite him on his greenhouse gas emitting minority government’s behind.
Almost exactly a decade ago, three years after the Kyoto Accord was signed by Canada and most of the other UN member states, Harper penned the following purple prose to the membership of the post-CCRAP but pre-Conservative Party of Canada entity known as the Canadian Alliance:
We’re on a roll, folks!
The Canadian Alliance is once again setting the agenda in the House of Commons….But we can’t just relax and declare victory. We’re gearing up for the biggest struggle our party has faced since you entrusted me with the leadership. I’m talking about the “battle of Kyoto” — our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto Accord.
It would take more than one letter to explain what’s wrong with Kyoto, but here are a few facts about this so-called “Accord”:
It’s based on tentative and contradictory scientific evidence about climate trends…It focuses on carbon dioxide, which is essential to life, rather than upon pollutants. Canada is the only country in the world required to make significant cuts in emissions. Third World countries are exempt, the Europeans get credit for shutting down inefficient Soviet-era industries, and no country in the Western hemisphere except Canada is signing…. Implementing Kyoto will cripple the oil and gas industry, which is essential to the economies of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
… Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations….Jean Chrétien says he will introduce a resolution to ratify Kyoto into Parliament and get it passed before Christmas. We will do everything we can to stop him there, but he might get it passed with the help of the socialists in the NDP and the separatists in the BQ….But the “battle of Kyoto” is just beginning. Ratification is merely symbolic; Kyoto will not take effect unless and until it is implemented by legislation. We will go to the wall to stop that legislation and at that point we will be on much stronger procedural ground than in trying to block a mere resolution…
Stephen Harper, MP
Harper’s adherence to the Kyoto-equals-socialism claptrap is no mere phrase-mongering on his part. His minority government is able to cling to office because opinion polls consistently show that there is support for this outlook among Canadian voters.
And to prove the point, if Harper wasn’t already enough of a buzzkill in global circles this week, the UN Secretary General was careful to avoid polemical comments about the Tory government’s announcement earlier this month that Canada would no longer fund abortion-related projects under the G8′s Third World child and maternal health care initiatives programe.
Like many world residents, Canadians may be resisting or denying climate change because they are inundated by and afraid of increasingly frequent bad news about what many, the UN included, portend as the death throes of our planet.
On the same day that Ban Ki-moon met with Harper, scientists were suggesting that a grey whale sighted in the eastern Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel may have gotten there by swimming through a de-iced northwest passage.
Considering that residents of Anchorage, Alaska recently celebrated Piuraagiaqta – “the spring festival that kicks off whaling season, April 9 to 11,” it’s even more astounding that the lone grey whale made it that far.