City council stalls on climate change resolution

Canada is getting booed by international players for its inaction on climate change and Whitehorse isn't doing much to help matters.

Canada is getting booed by international players for its inaction on climate change and Whitehorse isn’t doing much to help matters.

City council almost passed a motion Monday urging the federal government to take a firm stance at the Copenhagen climate change conference next month to reduce carbon emissions. But the motion stalled because of disagreements over the wording of the document.

The motion, introduced by councillor Dave Stockdale, requested Ottawa adopt the carbon emission targets put forward by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The motion also included a controversial clause urging the government to ratify the international climate change treaty, even though the wording of that treaty is not yet available.

Some councillors wanted the motion to be more specific. Others wanted it to be more vague.

“I can’t vote for this the way it is making that real broad commitment, even though I support what it’s trying to do,” said councillor Florence Roberts.

“If it became a little vaguer and left out the specifics of the commitment to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change I think maybe I could support (it).”

Local environmentalists Ken Madsen and John Streicker were at the council meeting to explain why the city should be persuading the federal government to take action on climate change.

“We’re asking that (the federal government) doesn’t water down the terms of the treaty,” said Streicker. “Canada is getting booed in the international forum.”

However, the spirit of the motion wasn’t enough to convince councillors.

“This is a tough situation … I agree with the cause but I’m really uncomfortable with that final statement,” said councillor Ranj Pillai.

The discussion, which dominated the council meeting that night, could have been avoided if the motion had been properly presented, said some councillors.

“I wonder why this motion is being brought forward this way,” councillor Doug Graham said.

“Sometimes I wonder if you (councillor Stockdale) really want us to pass the motion or want us to defeat it and make other people look bad.”

An attempt to amend the motion, so it wouldn’t commit council to an unwritten treaty, failed. So the matter was put over until the next council meeting, two weeks from now.

“I think we should defer because we already look like a bunch of idiots – well, more so than usual,” said Graham.

The issue attracted almost 20 environmentalists to the gallery that evening.

“They (council) quibbled about things that I hadn’t even thought of … I’m disappointed that it was not able to be passed today,” said Madsen’s son, Malcolm Boothroyd, who cycled from Whitehorse to Ottawa during the summer to pressure the federal government to meet its climate change commitments.

But, frustrations aside, Boothroyd said he would return in two weeks to see the debate played out again.

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