Monday, June 02, 2008

Panic much, Mr. Baird?

Picking up where Jim Flaherty left off, another of the Mike Harris crowd is taking a series of shots at Dalton McGuinty and Jean Charest for their imminent announcement of a cap-and-trade system between Ontario and Quebec: "Ottawa slams climate pact." Baird does Flaherty one better, however, by attacking Quebec as well. I'm sure Baird's attack on this environmental initiative will go over quite well in green Quebec.

Baird seems to have his hair on fire a little too intensely for a federal Environment Minister. You can have policy disagreements, surely, without the obvious vitriol that Baird displays in this report. Here's a bit of the back and forth on the issues between Ontario/Quebec and Baird's push back. Note the strikingly harsh tone Baird employs, hardly surprising, yet always hard to fathom how the Conservatives think this wins them any points:
The premiers criticized the federal government for not being tough enough in battling global warming, castigating the Conservatives for using 2006 emissions as the baseline and requiring industry to lower greenhouse gas output on a percentage basis instead of in real terms.

They prefer the 1990 baseline outlined in the Kyoto Protocol, and "real reduction" targets rather than just a lower intensity of emissions.

Baird countered by noting he's working with British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell and Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, and that he will meet the four Atlantic environment ministers on Friday in Wolfville, N.S., to sell his vision.

"Jean Charest and Dalton McGuinty are the odd men out. This is a huge shell game by these guys. It's all smoke and mirrors. What does their plan do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?" said Baird.

"The real embarrassment for Jean Charest and Dalton McGuinty is that (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper is getting tougher with corporate polluters than they are."

Baird disclosed an exchange he had with Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen on March 11.

"He said our plan wasn't tough enough, so I said `Let me see your plan' and we can talk. I'm still waiting," Baird said.

Gerretsen acknowledged Baird had called him at home that day, but insisted he had no recollection of the specifics of their conversation. (emphasis added)
Apparently the Ontario-Quebec announcement is today. By this account, the federal government has decided to go nuclear on it, in the form of unleashing John Baird to mouth platitude after platitude and pettily whine about the Ontario Environment Minister not calling him back. You can almost smell the desperation as Baird plows on and on with each successive attack. Charest and McGuinty will look positively statesmanlike in contrast if they take the high road and don't descend to Baird's level.