Oh Canada !! What have You done to Our Home and Native Land?

Vicki B

 I so didn’t want to write this story. I’ve put it off for 3 days now because I keep thinking it must be unreal. But no, it’s the same this morning as it was yesterday. The Canadian election results are in and they are , well, just awful for the environment. I keep thinking we need one of those Bolivian type proposals that give the Earth some rights and in this case some votes. Or actually just a few of the island states that are threatened by rising waters should perhaps get some say in how much this tarsand giant is allowed to emit.stephen harper

Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party actually achieved majority control. Having had to run a minority government for the last few years this gives them the Government and Harper is now the face of Canada for the rest of the world again.Yes, it's true, I'm really sorry to say.

There were some interesting outcomes. The first Green MP in Canada’s history, Elizabeth May in British Columbia,  got elected. She also becomes the only female federal leader on Parliament Hill. The NDP got a record number of seats and increased massively their presence in the House and along the way elected 3 University students. And there will be more female faces in the House of Commons with  76 women elected.

elizabeth may Michael Ignatieff lost his job as Official Opposition leader and as an MP in the election.The Liberals finished in third place for the first time in Canadian history.

But the real bummer is that this gives Harper the ability to continue to ignore climate change at home and to be hostile to it abroad in any climate treaties as he has been all along. And to massively increase tarsand production in his "industry friendly" approach. Which seems to mean that if you can extract oil in the most polluting method known then that's okay and any desire others on the planet may have to prolong their ability to live in their climate changing environment is just tough.

Canada long ago gave up and abandoned any hope of meeting its Kyoto Protocol commitments. Harper’s attitude has been to dismiss any monetary system of dealing with climate change and to take the attitude that we are doing really well thanks, so bad luck to the rest of you if you have to deal with the adverse effects of our policies. Actually over the years Harper has questioned climate change as even being real 

“This may be a lot of fun for a few scientific and environmental elites in Ottawa, but ordinary Canadians from coast to coast will not put up with what this will do to their economy and lifestyle.” ( Stephen Harper,Toronto Star, September 5, 2002)

canada flag In Copenhagen Canada earned a Fossil of the year award , and in Davos in 2010 Harper claimed

“It is very difficult to significantly lower emissions growth,” said Harper, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“They simply cannot be reduced by declaring a target and saying they will be met by power of will, because that isn’t going to happen.”

Harper seems to look at the  sparsely populated, big country that has oodles of oil and think " well, how do we maximise our benefit at the expense of the rest of the world" And I mean oodles. They have 175 billion barrels of oil in reserves. Yep, that was a B …for billion.Thats the third most in the world, and they produce each day 2.6 million barrels of crude oil. More than Libya as it turns out. But no worry, no need for the US to invade their near neighbors here because they are already the single biggest supplier of foreign oil to the US. And they have just elected a government that is going to keep getting out that oil at no matter the cost. Tar sands will mean they just keep on bringing out that fossil fuel. Harper hails from the West of Canada, and it's where the tar sands come from too and it's where Canada is deriving real money, and therefore power.

As  Prof George Hoberg said 

"The 2011 Canadian election is very bad news for the climate movement. Climate, and the environment more broadly, was not a significant issue in the election campaign. Canada’s dysfunctional electoral system handed a party that received less than 40% of the vote on the right side of the political spectrum a commanding majority government that will be in power for 4 years. Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party of Canada had the least ambitious climate platform; the parties representing the other 60% of voters had more aggressive policies in their platforms."

alberta tar sands


It’s strange given the urbane, friendly, well-educated and rational Canadians will take a stance internationally and at home  for the next critical 4 years that is so at odds with the persona of the country. They will likely have an international climate change setting that will be horrible and largely in denial, while at home they will simply keep upping the output from those tar sands in Alberta.

Okay, Canadians....we know what you are like - fair, funny, open and rational and easy to be with , but this needs something doing . Tell us what it is so we can help.


For other great stories on Celsias 

We won't trouble Saudi while we crave their oil

Our Lust for Novelty vs Our need to keep a Planet

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  • Posted on May 4, 2011. Listed in:

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