Canada Kicks Ass

Caring Canada vs. Alberta fat cats
Date: Wednesday, September 04 2002
Topic: International News

Caring Canada vs. Alberta fat cats

By PAUL STANWAY -- Edmonton Sun

So he did it. Jean Chretien stumbled through a speech at the world summit in Johannesburg and committed Canada to ratification of the Kyoto accord before the end of the year.

The announcement was, of course, wrapped up in suitably inclusive language. "When the consultations have concluded and before the end of the year," said the PM, "the Canadian Parliament will be asked to vote on the ratification of the Kyoto accord."

If the outcome is now predetermined, you have to wonder about the point of those consultations? The prime minister has a majority in the House of Commons and, according to recent opinion polls, the support of a substantial majority of Canadians. He can do whatever he wants.

The only political opposition to Kyoto comes from the Alberta government and the Canadian Alliance, which may well be the point for this most political of Canadian prime ministers. Kyoto may be based on dubious science and its goals utterly unrealistic, but it does provide a nice opportunity to paint the Alliance as anti-environment barbarians. It also allows the PM to return to the tried and tested themes of the NEP and the oil wars of the late 1970s and early '80s: Greedy, fat-cat Alberta versus a caring, sharing federal Liberal government led by a Great Canadian.

It beats the heck out of spending the next year and a half as the lame-duck leader of a government twiddling its thumbs until his retirement bash.

The suspicion that the prime minister's motives on this issue are mostly political is supported by the fact that climate change, the issue that underscores the Kyoto accord, wasn't even on the agenda in Johannesburg. He didn't have to say a thing about it - and what he did say didn't make much sense.

According to Prof. Chretien, "Extreme weather events around the world have underscored the reality of climate change as well as the imperative for global action, an imperative that is strongly felt by Canadians."

Really? Over the past decade or so, scientists have discovered that "the reality of climate change" is an ongoing phenomenon that has marked much of the development of life on our planet. They have learned that the climate changes often, and sometimes with devastating impact on plant and animal life. What they haven't figured out is how and why.

Despite the strident prophesies of doom, the truth is that not much is known for sure about the way climate works or what triggers the regular changes found in the archeological record. What we do know is that over the past four decades similarly grim predictions about the environment, overpopulation and disappearing resources have all been dead wrong. All of them.

The Johannesburg summit was successfully and very professionally hijacked by those with a vested interest in scaring the daylights out of the ordinary citizens of the world's democracies, and the people they elect to lead them. Most of the media dutifully repeated the line that climate change is the new big threat to life as we know it, and "sustainable development" and Kyoto are the way to deal with it. Anyone who disagrees is, by definition, an eco-fascist.

So you heard nothing, for example, about a group of 200 independent British scientists who call themselves the Scientific Alliance (no relation to you know who). They systematically demolished the carefully packaged pre-summit scare stories that claimed a brown cloud of pollution hovering above Asia caused floods in Bangladesh and drought in India, that global warming was the certain culprit behind recent floods in central Europe, and (my personal favourite) a report from the Worldwide Fund for Nature that suggested we will be using double the Earth's available resources within less than 50 years.

Apparently Prime Minister Chretien didn't get the memo. He followed British PM Tony Blair to the podium in Johannesburg, but I'm thinking that Blair likely didn't slip him a copy of another British report - this one by a panel of distinguished engineers - that concluded Britain's support of Kyoto is "hopelessly unrealistic."

Oversimplification, voodoo science, manipulative PR, shallow politics, hopelessly unrealistic goals - and a prime minister who has already announced he's not going to be around to take responsibility for any of it! I don't know about you, but I'm convinced. Where do I sign?

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