How Harper and Obama used the North for different storylines
Conservative leader Stephen Harper and wife Laureen arrive at a float plane dock on Schwatka Lake, near Whitehorse, Y.T., after a boat ride on Friday, September 4, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Adrian Wyld)
Published Saturday, September 5, 2015 12:55PM EDT
WHITEHORSE - Stephen Harper was surrounded by the majestic scenery in this northern territory on Friday, as he and his wife, Laureen, toured the pristine Schwatka Lake on his first campaign visit to the Yukon.
Harper used the scenic images to promote his latest campaign promise: A $9-million boost to Destination Canada.
The federal agency will have new, dedicated cash to promote angling, hunting and snowmobiling tourism in the northern parts of Canada -- a huge source of economic activity.
It's a sharp contrast to how U.S. President Barack Obama used similar images in neighbouring Alaska earlier this week: Obama toured the northern state to highlight his concerns about climate change and pointed media to melting glaciers as a cause for alarm.
Yet so far this campaign, Harper has not mentioned the issue-- or the words "climate change"-- at any events this week. So I asked him why.
"I believe two major issues in this campaign are the economy and security," he said.
"In terms of climate-change policy, this government's been very clear: We’ve set a target of 30 percent over 2005 levels by 2030. We're the first government to see emissions reductions."
Harper said his government's position will be tied to targets set by world leaders at the Paris Climate Change Summit, coming up in December.
So it all suggests the Conservatives will not be making any significant environmental promises this campaign. But then again, the NDP and Liberals have barely made climate change an issue to date.
In fact, neither opposition party even mentioned Canada's absence at a global climate change summit taking place earlier this week in Anchorage, Alaska -- right across the Yukon border.
Foreign ministers from eight countries attended at the invitation of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Canada, with the world's longest Arctic coastline, was represented by a senior bureaucrat rather than Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson. Nicholson's absence was "due to the ongoing federal election," according to a departmental spokesperson.
Kerry made a passing swipe at Nicholson's absence in his closing remarks:
"The bottom line is that climate is not a distant threat for our children and their children to worry about … It is happening now," said Kerry.
"And I think anybody running for any high office in any nation in the world should come to Alaska or to any other place where it is happening and inform themselves about this. It is a seismic challenge that is affecting millions of people today."