Canada’s dismal presence

Leona Aglukkaq has been in Lima at COP20 arriving on the same flight I took to Peru.  She was in first class so I didn’t see her, but I was reliably informed by a friend in the front cabin that she was there.

It has been no easier to find her at COP20 than it was through the “iron curtain” between first class and economy on the flight from Toronto. Yesterday, Environment Canada issued a news release announcing that “Today, Minister Aglukkaq is hosting a discussion in Lima, Peru, to highlight the importance of incorporating traditional knowledge into environmental decision-making. This event will bring together high-level international officials to discuss how traditional knowledge can support the development of successful environmental policies and programs in countries around the world.”

I searched in vain for any sign of this discussion.  It was not listed as a media event at COP nor was it on the list of side-events within the conference.  I discovered today that it had been a private reception held at the Canadian Embassy in Lima.  I was not invited. Of course, I am used to that.  She held a reception at the last COP in Warsaw at our embassy where I was not invited.

I would have liked to have imagined that in the spirit of Canadians together in foreign capitals, all Canadians in Lima for COP would have been invited.  That would have been the case under previous governments.  Certainly as the only other Parliamentarian here, I should have been invited. It is not the Embassy of the Conservative Party of Canada in Peru; it is the Embassy of Canada.   I don’t know who was invited or if any media was.  The only international participant was the head of the United Nations Environment Programme, Achim Steiner.

The press release was a blatant misrepresentation.  It includes this line under Quick Facts: “This discussion, held during COP20 in Lima, is being organized and led by Canada.”

Who would have imagined this discussion was at an invitation-only private reception?

Today Minister Aglukkaq stepped out onto the world stage for her statement to the COP.

It was supposed to be a 3 minute address, but she broke the records of all the other ministers who went over their time limit, giving a speech of more than 8 minutes.  At every minute mark over 3, there were bells and reminders her time was up. She kept speaking over the bells in a half-hearted attempt to tell the nations of the world that Canada was in the lead. “Our record speaks for itself,” she said.  Indeed it does. Environment Canada just released its long over due Emissions Tracking report.  Canada’s target for 2020 under the weak Copenhagen Accord is for 126 megatonne (MT) reduction.  At the moment the anticipated reduction will be 10 MT.

Back in Ottawa, what she was saying in Peru  — a verbatim recitation of all her usual talking points in the House – “we have a sector by sector approach” – was demolished by her boss.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in Question Period that he had no intention of bringing in the oil and gas regulations he has promised since 2007.

He said it would be “crazy” to do so.  That Stephen Harper would attack his own climate promises on the very day his minister repeated them in Peru at COP20 would make an honourable person resign.

Peter Kent, our former Environment Minister, is reported to have prepared the oil and gas regulations, but Harper would not support their implementation.  That was when oil was selling high.  Now that the price of a barrel of oil is sinking fast, Harper is using that as an excuse to renege.

Harper is running out of excuses. Waiting for Obama turned into waiting for China.  Now that the US and China are acting, we have to wait for the price of oil to rebound, so we are waiting for Saudi Arabia.

In Lima at COP20 the nations of the world (except Canada and Australia) seem to be genuinely committed to getting the draft treaty ready for Paris and COP21. And I am committed to making sure that before the world gathers at the next COP, Stephen Harper will no longer be our Prime Minister.