Friday, December 18, 2009

Pariah State

Well done Harper et al.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was left off the guest list for an emergency meeting of world leaders that included U.S. President Barack Obama in the final hours of the Copenhagen climate talks. Obama arrived in the Danish capital Friday morning in the hopes his influence could sway the 193 countries here to get a deal done. Shortly after arriving, the American president headed into a special meeting with 19 other leaders. Among the attendees were Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei, Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
You know, it's funny, the Conservative government makes so much hay about Canada and Afghanistan, which is at best a temporary distraction for the states involved. But with the defining issue of the century, for the entire world, we are no longer even welcome at the table. Canada, with this government, is now a petulant child sent to its room so the adults can be serious.

I've had one or two opportunities at different times to meet with and observe how high level political types interact at altitude. They know each other. Decisions are made over drink and food, and quiet phone calls. Theirs is a palpable informal culture which I suspect is produced by the mere fact that states' ministers belong to an exclusive and limited club, that while not always in agreement, at least subscribe to a certain macro-outlook. This is especially true among wealthy Core states with entrenched economic and other relationships. To see one of these states so markedly rejected by the others, especially one formally a charter member of the in-crowd, is a major issue. It was no accident Canada was left off the list. Given our performance at Copenhagen thanks to our Conservatives, we are not welcome at that table anymore. In its clumsy, haphazard, inconsistant way, the world is moving on climate change, and Canada has been left standing outside in a dark, cold, tailings pond.

This will have repercussions elsewhere.

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