Opposition slams PM over climate-change stand
Published Monday, November 26, 2007 8:15PM EST
The Conservative government's stance on climate change came under fire Monday during question period in the House of Commons.
Opposition MPs condemned the prime minister's refusal over the weekend to sign on to a plan to combat global warming at the Commonwealth meeting in Uganda.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper helped block a deal at the summit that would have set binding targets for the developed world on greenhouse gas emissions -- but excluded developing countries from having to meet those targets.
Virtually all the 54-member Commonwealth countries in attendance supported the resolution that comes ahead of a major UN-sponsored meeting in Indonesia next month. There, negotiations will be made to find a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol.
While the Commonwealth resolution failed to pass, Harper helped broker an amendment that pledged members would work towards undefined -- or so-called "aspirational" -- goals on emissions.
Opposition parties on Monday blasted the move, accusing the prime minister of failing Canada and trying to sabotage the efforts in Indonesia.
"Instead of leading by example, this prime minister engaged in sabotage of the Commonwealth conference," Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said during question period. "When you're Canada, you lead."
"When the Commonwealth turned to Canada ... Canada looked away," added Liberal deputy leader Michael Ignatieff.
Environment Minister John Baird fired back, accusing Dion of playing catch-up after failing to deal with the issue when the Liberal government was in power.
Baird said Canada is not opposed to binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions, but added that all big emitters need to come on board to effectively combat the problem.
"We can't take responsibility for the last 10 years where greenhouse gases went up," Baird said later on CTV's Mike Duffy Live. "But we're cleaning up the mess."
"If you believe the science, we can't do it alone in Canada. We need all the big economies, all the big emitters, all the big polluters -- China, industry, the United States -- all on board. We don't want to see companies shut down operations in Canada because of our tough regulations and move to China where there's no requirements."
Baird is expected next month in Indonesia to push all major polluters to make significant and binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
But opposition MPs said Harper, with his refusal to approve the resolution in Africa, has already blocked any chance of real progress to be made at the Bali conference.
BQ Leader Gilles Duceppe reportedly wrote a letter to Indonesia's president, appealing to him not to listen to what the Tory government has to say.
But Baird said Canada is already taking action, and that it will continue every year to reach its goal of a 20 per cent reduction in GHGs by 2020.
"Canadians want better, they expect better than someone who's just a letter writer," Baird responded.
"We're going to be starting negotiations, then setting an agenda, setting a timetable in Bali, and this government is going to be working aggressively to try to get everybody on board.
"We will have failed if we only get 30 per cent of the world's polluters on board."