Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Harper out of his depth

Having hitched his wagon to George Bush's falling star, Stephen Harper yapped away to a lunchtime gathering of German business leaders and took a page out of the book of excuses formerly employed by Rona Ambrose.
"Frankly, up to now, our country has been engaged in a lot of 'talking the talk,' but not, 'walking the walk,' when it comes to greenhouse gases," Harper said. "Our predecessors in government committed our country to the Kyoto protocol ... and then they did nothing to achieve this goal,"
In other words, aside from being a complete and utter lie, he's blathering on about domestic Canadian politics in front of an international audience, something which Rona Ambrose did in November at the UN climate conference in Nairobi. He then went on to describe his "plan" in all its glory.

For that, he got this from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, current G-8 chair:
Merkel, who as chair of the G-8 has moved climate change to the top of the leaders' agenda, told CBC TV yesterday she is disappointed with the Harper government's rejection of the emissions-reduction targets Canada previously accepted under the Kyoto pact.

"Of course, we are not happy at this point that Canada has abandoned Kyoto's goals," she said.

It would be interesting to have been an observer at the meeting which took place between the Canadian delegation and the EU group. Merkel said this after the meeting:

"Our objectives are worded in somewhat different language but I think at the end of the day, we can say that we share this goal," she told the media after meeting Harper during a Canada-European Union summit.
Which is about the same as drawing a happy face on a report card full of "D"s. The impression is that Harper was given a clinic in global power politics by Merkel. And even if that didn't happen, China popped the Bush/Harper balloon by stating that they would not be held to any quantified emission reduction targets.

So much for Bush and Harper having China onboard.

Merkel has also been adamant that Kyoto remains the framework and that all climate change agreements need to be dealt with through the UN, quite openly telling Bush that his plan wouldn't qualify as toilet paper.

What Harper and Bush don't seem to fathom is that Merkel actually means what she's saying. Bush remains a global warming denier, despite anything he may say, and Harper's "plan" will actually allow increases in GHG emissions as the economy grows. His plan has no absolute reductions. Both Harper and Bush are playing at this and neither is able to approach the problem from anything but a political angle.

They don't get that Merkel is less interested in politics and more interested in working towards absolute reductions in GHG emissions. She's following the science; not the politics.

As the G-8 summit approaches Harper looks even more the fool on the global stage, unable to shed the mantle of domestic politics and out of his league. Being so closely aligned with Bush just presents him in a worse light internationally, particularly in Europe where Bush is viewed as a global hazard.

Notwithstanding, Merkel would do well to understand that Harper actually believes this is Canada's future.

When Rolf Wenkel described Bush as "... a provincial politician from Texas, who has long imagined that he knows something about world politics," he could have used the same words to describe Harper by simply substituting Alberta for Texas.

Update: Links fixed. Original quote extended.

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