Harper: Kyoto critic or "climate
[PoliticsWatch updated 5:30 p.m., January 30, 2007]
|Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
OTTAWA — Earlier
this month, a U.S. Weather Channel host created a bit of controversy
when she wrote on her blog that the American Meteorological Society
should strip certification of TV weather men and women who question
the science of climate change.
"If a meteorologist can't speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn't give them a Seal of Approval,”
Heidi Cullen wrote on her blog at the Weather Channel's Web site.
Right wing blogs and Web sites in the U.S. quickly accused Cullen
and the Weather Channel of launching a McCarthy-like witch hunt
against meteorologists who prefer to espouse cyclical weather
A similar situation is now occurring in Ottawa as Parliament begins
the second day of what has become the Green Parliament.
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and his party now seem intent on
decertifying Prime Minister Stephen Harper from his job on
Dion has clashed with Harper a total of six times in the House of
Commons over the last two days. And in most of those exchanges he
has taken to calling Harper a "climate change
Harper and the PMO both deny Dion's allegation.
"On the contrary," the PM said in response to Dion on
Monday. "It is not sufficient to simply believe in something. One has to actually do something about it to prove that one is serious."
Nonetheless, Dion and the Liberals are now trying to personalize
what at the moment is the issue of most concern for Canadians,
according to polling.
The strategy comes in the immediate aftermath of the Tories
unveiling attack ads which openly question Dion's past efforts on
the environment and his leadership ability.
Dion's use of the "climate change denier" label in the
House and countless times in scrums with reporters appears to be
part of a orchestrated campaign by the Liberals.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Liberals sent out a series of quotes
Harper has made on climate change over the past three years.
The quotes suggest that as recently as three years ago, Harper was a
climate change skeptic.
"I think these are subjects where we know a lot less than some claim we
know," Harper told the Frontier Centre for Public Policy in May
2004. "Climate is always changing. My suspicion is that human activities have some impact upon that but I think the jury is out on a lot of the actual specific trends."
But the Liberals are attempting to take great liberties suggesting
that as recently as last month the PM was in climate change
The Liberals point to comments Harper made at a year-end press
conference on Parliament Hill in December when he said the
opposition parties focus only on "so-called greenhouse
However, the Liberals ignore comments Harper made just days before
that in an interview with the National Post when he said, "From what I've seen, the preponderance of evidence suggests
(climate change) is a real and a serious problem. As you know, the science has evolved several times even in the last couple of decades, but all the evidence suggests that we should take the problem seriously and start to try and act on it."
While Harper's opinions on climate change have evolved over the past
three years, they have not changed as a result of recent polling, as
the Liberals and Dion allege.
Harper's belief in climate change was clearly spelled out as
recently as this summer when he spent several days in Canada's North
promoting the government's Arctic sovereignty plans.
In one speech, the PM gave the signal that climate change was a reality and actually cited climate change as a reason for the need for an increased military presence in the North.
"The Northwest Passage is becoming more accessible every year," Harper said. "Some scientists even predict it will be open to year-round shipping within a decade."
NDP Leader Jack Layton has had a number of conversations with
the prime minister where he raised the issue of climate
In fact, in the first meeting the two men had weeks after last
year's election, Layton gave Harper a copy of Tim Flannery's
The Weathermakers, which is described as a global call to arms
against climate change.
When asked by PoliticsWatch Tuesday if he agreed with Dion's
characterization of the prime minister as a climate change denier,
Layton would not go that far.
"What I have said is that I don’t believe that the prime minister understands the seriousness or the urgency of the
issue," Layton said after question period. "There has been no indication of dramatic action. We have wasted 12 months."
Harper may have stopped questioning the science of climate change,
but his criticism of the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions remains in place.
Earlier this month, Harper said in a television Canada will be 50 per cent over its Kyoto targets come 2012 and suggested
there's not much that will change that.
"We can't tell the Canadian population to heat their home one-third less of the time ... so we've got a major challenge, and we are going to get on with it," Harper told
In addition, Harper threatened to topple the Martin government three
times in 2005.
While everyone remembers the non-confidence
votes in November and May related to the sponsorship scandal,
Harper's first threat came just days after the Tories held their
policy convention in Montreal and before the Gomery inquiry became
Harper threatened to topple the government in March of that year
hours after the government tabled a budget implementation bill that
contained a new provision to force companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of its commitment to meet targets under the Kyoto protocol.
"It is completely unacceptable," Harper said, adding that then
prime minister Paul Martin would "have to decide whether this or any particular element of the budget is worth calling an election over."
The Liberals moved Tuesday to leave no doubt that Harper was a Kyoto
critic when they released a copy of a 2002
fundraising letter Harper sent to Canadian Alliance supporters
in which he launched what he described as "the biggest struggle
our party has faced since you entrusted me with the
"I'm talking about the battle of Kyoto," Harper
In the letter, Harper questioned what he characterized as the
"tentative and contradictory scientific evidence about climate
On Tuesday, Liberal environment critic David McGuinty called
Harper's letter "the most outrageous document I have seen on climate change in my 20 years of work on climate change."
When a reporter pointed out the letter was written five years ago,
McGuinty said in response, "Five years later it tells you that Mr. Harper has no principles on this, no convictions on this.
"He still is a climate change denier."
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