Canadians can be proud.
The dollar is strong, the economy is buoyant and we are asserting ourselves as a middle power in the world.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper covets this newfound international power.
And, on Saturday, he used it to screw other countries to ensure Canada can continue to burn fossil fuels like mad until 2050, when today’s Grade 8 students are 56 years old.
The strong-arming happened at a meeting of Commonwealth nations in Kampala, Uganda.
A majority of Commonwealth nations supported a climate change motion that called for binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Global warming is a threat to rich and poor nations alike, said Ghanaian President John Kufour, speaking on behalf of the African delegation.
“Discussions on climate change have therefore assumed a new sense of urgency,” he said.
“It is our hope and expectation that we will continue to work together with greater commitment … to save our global environment from further destruction.”
Heading into the conference, there was some hope that could be achieved.
Britain supported the binding targets, and wanted the Commonwealth to send a message to the world in the leadup to the upcoming United Nations climate change conference in Indonesia.
But Harper represents petroleum-soaked Alberta, and is vehemently opposed to binding targets, which might cut into the oil industry’s record profits.
So his team bullied Commonwealth nations into accepting a diluted proposal that erased all mention of binding targets in favour of a guarantee to work together for some undefined goal.
Harper was able to do so because the Commonwealth works on consensus, and so a single nation balking could have deep-sixed any mention of climate change from the conference.
Instead of that, the group of nations signed on to Canada’s vague compromise.
Harper insisted Canada wasn’t the only nation in favour of such wording. Trinidad and Tobago agreed with us, he said.
Heading into the Uganda conference, New Zealand and Australia were also believed to be against hard targets.
But even as Harper’s brinksmanship was underway, Australian Prime Minister John Howard was being hammered in a federal election.
Kevin Rudd’s Labour Party soundly beat Howard’s Liberal-National coalition party on a pro-environment platform.
So, with Australia now more amenable to fighting climate change, the only nation Harper could cite as a supporter was Trinidad and Tobago.
Emboldened by that support, Canada pushed for, and achieved its goal.
“It’s the first time in these international meetings that a group of countries worked with us to assure a better result,” said Harper.
Harper’s better result was staving off any limits on Canada’s ability to pollute the globe.
The better result was turning the nation’s back on less developed nations, many of which are in danger of being flooded out, starved or rendered largely uninhabitable by global warming.
“I think for the first time in a very long time, Canada’s voice is being heard,” Harper said at the end of the three-day Commonwealth meeting.
“And the consequence of our voice being heard is that we’re getting the changes that we want to see.”
In the words of some attending the conference, Harper’s Canada is quickly shedding its boy scout image.
He’s establishing Canada as a middle power.
The question now is whether Canadians will embrace Harper’s nationalism and bullyboy foreign policy.
Or will we follow Australia’s lead and send him, like Howard, into the void? (RM)