Friday, December 12, 2008

Jim Prentice, statesman

Jim Prentice bashes Elizabeth May while both attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland:
Environment Minister Jim Prentice has fired a warning shot at Green Party Leader Elizabeth May for a series of critical comments she made on Canada's environmental record at an international conference in Europe this week.

Prentice and May are both attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland. Delegates from all over the world are at the meeting gearing up for a conference next year in Denmark where major climate change deals are expected to be signed.

Since arriving in Poznan, May has been voicing strong criticisms of Canada's environmental policies, describing the government as "regressive" and "destructive".

"I think you need to be careful as a Canadian when you are participating in an international forum like this," Prentice said of May's behaviour.

"Certainly there's room for reasonable disagreement ... but I think she has quite unfairly characterized her country's position on these issues."
Prentice doing his best Ari Fleischer. Watch what you say, must toe the Conservative line while abroad. So refreshing. May thoroughly responds :
Canada has been held up by international NGOs at this gathering as particularly appalling in its positions. Yesterday back in Ottawa, news of Canada’s actions here, refusing to allow language about indigenous rights in the language used to protect forests, enraged First Nations leaders who were meeting with Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl. “The actions of Canada in Poland are designed to undermine the rights of indigenous people here and elsewhere,” said AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine, “It's completely unacceptable.”

Canada has objected to the necessary binding targets for industrialized countries, we have made special pleadings that we should do less because the tar sands are very profitable and very polluting, that we are cold and big… The rest of the world has been shocked by discovering that even now that George W. Bush is on his way out, Canada has not veered from its Bush-like positions. GermanWatch issued its annual respected index of climate policies for the 57 industrialized countries. Out of 57, Canada rated 56. Only Saudi Arabia got a lower grade. As one NGO journal, referring to Canada, put it “It’s lonely at the bottom.”

I was surprised to see in the Sun media back in Canada (no English language Canadian reporters are here, so the interview was by phone) that Environment Minister Jim Prentice decided to take a shot at me. He apparently thought it was inappropriate for me to criticize Canada in an international forum. (I actually like Jim Prentice on a personal level, so I should give him the benefit of the doubt that the interview was being spun in the direction of getting him to attack me).

Strange then that as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper thought it was appropriate to attack his Liberal predecessors from the podium in the Australian Parliament. That was clearly embarrassing and inappropriate. As Leader of the Green Party of Canada, I have not been privy to any confidential delegation negotiating instructions. I only know what I (and the rest of the world ) witnessed. Canada is threatening the future for my children and grandchildren and their grandchildren. There are no rules of protocol to suggest opposition parties not criticize their government abroad. It is what Opposition Parties do. Of course, it would give me far greater pleasure to cheer on our government as I was able to do at COP11, when we were still the ones wearing the White Hats.
Perhaps Minister Prentice should be considering why such opposition is being voiced rather than trying to suppress it. That would be a start.