Friday, December 12, 2008

Canada's International Reputation Takes Another Beating

And again on the environment. Was our stalling and the daily condemnations being rained down upon us at Bali not enough? Apparently we needed a replay in Poland. Not only is every Western nation taking action on the economy while we are not, they all seem to be much more serious about tackling climate change while we have our heads in the sand. The economy may be top of mind for most people these days but that doesn't mean what we decide NOW on the environment won't have dramatic consequences for the economy and our way of life in the future. Good economic policy is good environmental policy and this is yet another area the Harper government should change if it is to prove itself worthy of survival in January. And it seems Jim Prentice has serious trouble taking hints from international leaders that he's failing at his job. Jim when you are told that Canada has "historically" played a strong role in international affairs and human rights, that's not exactly a complement of what you're doing right now. Meanwhile, Chuck Strahl is being blasted by Native groups for his government's stance in Poland that fails to adequately to take into account the rights of Aboriginal groups. It seems we won't be going back to our historically strong roles unless we have a change of a government.

Galling Senate appointments, obstruction on a fundamental issue on the world stage, neglect of Native rights, stalling on economic stimulus, all of this since the poroguing of Parliament. The onus is on Stephen Harper to prove why he deserves to survive in January and so far his actions are really not a good sign.

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Prentice defends Tory position at climate talks

Despite facing heated criticism from international delegates trying to negotiate a pact to deal with global warming at the UN climate conference in Poland, Canada's environment minister insists Ottawa is being "constructive" at the talks.

Environmental groups have called Canada's position at the talks "shameful," saying the Canadian delegates are acting like spoilers at a time when other world leaders are trying to cope with a serious problem.

During a short telephone interview from the conference, Environment Minister Jim Prentice thrice said Canada wants to be "constructive."

"We very much want the world community to arrive at a final binding agreement in Copenhagen in 2009," he told CTV's Canada AM on Friday.

Prentice went on to note how UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told him that Canada has played an important role "historically" in international affairs.

However, international leaders have said the current Canadian government appears to be thwarting negotiations, with one world leader going so far as to say Canada is "blocking progress."

"I think they're definitely disappointed," Megan McKeen, a 17-year-old youth delegate at the conference, told Canada AM on Friday about the international community's reaction to Canada's unpopular stand.

"Canada should be in a position where we are stepping up and showing leadership. That's what developed nations are expected to do in a situation like this."

European countries are calling for a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020. While the Canadians have said they would go along with the target, they won't set target levels to 1990 figures, which many developed nations say are needed for an effective agreement to curb global warming.

Even here at home, Harper's Conservative government is facing a backlash from the native community. Canada was only one of four countries in the world not to include language recognizing the rights of native peoples in a conference plan to deal with deforestation.

Prentice said his government is concerned about the "drafting of the text" as it relates to aboriginal issues. He said Canada "fully expressed the ability of aboriginal peoples to be consulted in these issues."

McKeen said Prentice needs to do less talking and provide effective action.

"I can't say we're pleased with the talks," McKeen said, noting Prentice acknowledged the importance of the youth delegates at the conference.

"The best way for him to acknowledge us is to commit to the targets and help us," she said.

The conference in Poznan, Poland, is expected to wrap up Friday with an aid package for poor countries to adapt to the effects of climate change.

The international community is trying to come up with a binding comprehensive environmental deal by next year to replace the Kyoto Accord.


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1 comments:

Life Insurance Canada said...

To say the truth I even haven't noticed this meeting in Poland. It comes to me that everybody is more interested in economic changes right now and don't care about the environment - and the nature may be the biggest loser in this crisis. On the other hand, Obama showed that economical fight against crisis and environmental fight can be joined into one. Despite not being sure about his tools, I consider Obama's goals as a good example for us...
Take care
Lorne