The Green Party today called on Stephen Harper to provide Canadians with the kind of leadership needed at a time of environmental crisis – instead of promoting a “national pipe dream.”
The National Snow and Ice Data Centre has reported that Arctic sea ice has already dropped below the 2007 melt record – and there are still two to three weeks of melt to go. Sunday the ice dropped below 4 million km2, an all time loss of Arctic sea ice. This is a melt of more than 40% of summer ice extent in the past decade alone.
“When Stephen Harper was in the Arctic recently, how often did he mention climate change and its repercussions?” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands. “Instead, he appeared to be celebrating the fact that the ice melt would allow greater access to northern resources while at the same time accelerating our use of fossil fuels. It cannot be overstated how dangerously short-sighted this is.”
Scientists have warned that the Arctic will soon be seasonally ice free with serious consequences for the North, for Canada and for the planet. “When you go from a year round frozen ocean to one that melts each summer, you affect weather patterns from the Prairies to the East Coast,” said John Streicker, Climate Scientist and Green Party Advocate for Arctic and Northern Affairs. “The Arctic Ocean acts like a thermostat for the entire planet. Melting it out will accelerate climate change globally. Unfortunately, what happens in the Arctic, doesn’t stay in the Arctic.”
What is Harper doing in the face of this frightening evidence and the concerns of Canadians? We all watched the spectacle of the prime minister travelling across the North, claiming to speak on behalf of all Canadians as he promoted increased resource development – our new ‘national dream’.
The prime minister’s office has stated that there are presently eleven resource projects undergoing the Conservatives’ greatly weakened version of Environmental Assessment, representing about $8 billion in investment.
“Mr. Harper claims to be acting ‘in the long-term best interests of this country’ as he promotes rapid extraction projects and a growing dependence on fossil energy” said May. “Canada needs to invest in sustainable energy and resource development, with long term jobs and without the side effects of a world fundamentally altered by climate change. Otherwise Harper’s national pipe dream will become a national nightmare.”
“This year, Canada takes over the lead of the Arctic Council and it will face many burning issues,” stated Streicker. “Based on the Prime Minister’s ‘use it or lose it’ agenda, I have serious concerns about Canada’s leadership role on the Council – and in the North.”