Kent says Fossil Awards are 'worn with honour'
Environment Minister Peter Kent said Tuesday he’s unaffected by environmentalists trying to shame the government with Fossil Awards, saying that “some of those awards are worn with honour.”
Kent was reacting to recent comments about Canada’s oilsands development by Al Gore, who suggested it treated Earth's atmosphere like an open sewer.
But as the environment minister continued to defend the government’s environmental record, he turned to the Fossil Awards.
Canada has been awarded the “Fossil of the Year” award five times for its perceived inaction on climate change. The award, which is meant to be a badge of shame, was last given to Canada at the 2011 UN climate change conference in Durban, South Africa. In 2012, it shared the award with New Zealand.
“Some of these awards are worn with honour,” Kent said.
Environmentalists have long criticized the Harper government for its environmental policies. In recent years, that includes Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol in 2011, and in March, for being the only country in the world to pull out of a UN convention aimed at fighting droughts in Africa.
Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair said that as a result, Canada is losing its standing with the rest of the world.
“We’ve lost all credibility on environmental matters generally, and other countries are starting to pay attention to it,” he said.
Critics also take issue with the Conservatives’ position on the oilsands, accusing them of bending environmental rules to exploit the resource.
“The destruction of Canadian environmental laws is making us the object of global scorn,” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said.
Former U.S. vice-president and activist Al Gore told CTV News that he hoped Canada would provide more leadership in the fight to combat climate change.
“I do think it’s somewhat surprising. I and many others had hoped that Canada, like Australia, would help to provide some leadership in the world community on this issue,” Gore said.
Kent said that the government is working to address the issue and suggested Gore pay better attention.
“He’d better inform himself about the Canadian record. We have engaged in legislation to provide for better regulation, better enforcement,” he said.
With a report from CTV’s Richard Madan in Ottawa