Climate Change: Speak to your MP

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For two months Toronto Environmental Organizations (including 4RG) have been meeting with Liberal MP’s for the Greater Toronto area. These meetings were prompted by concerns that the Liberal Government is backing off its policies to reduce climate change, and has abandoned its proposals for electoral reform.

A small citizens group visited Rob Oliphant, the MP for Don Valley West. Oliphant‘s comments were helpful in appreciating the reason for the policies of the current Government.

Last year representatives of the Obama Administration held discussions with our Federal Ministers on the possibility of extending the environmental provisions in NAFTA. These discussions considered whether the next logical step should be the inclusion of provisions on GHG emissions.

This initiative will not survive Trump’s promise to rip up NAFTA. Our submission to Oliphant was that if Trump demands revisions of NAFTA, our Government should propose that its scope be extended to climate change policy.

Oliphant outlined the Federal Liberal Government strategy to handle demands of the new Trump administration. “Wine and dine” (our words) US government representatives and influential politicians and explain to them that these demands should be carefully reviewed as to their impact on Canada. Besides such public figures as Brian Mulroney, this public relations task is to be handled by our Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, and 24 individual MP’s.

We imagine that Canada’s negotiating stance would be defensive and conciliatory. Canada would not make extraordinary demands in these public relations activities. The benefit of this approach is that retaliatory actions against Canada’s economic and business interests would be minimized.

A reasonable strategy – but a similar public relations approach did not persuade Obama to approve Keystone XL.  Will it work with Trump? And is there any other option if it does not? What chances are there for any progress on climate change initiatives at the international level over the next four years?

Our view is that Canada should maintain a firm stand on the need for measures against climate change. But Canada cannot do it alone. Our Government must actively seek out common positions with countries the likes of the European Union and China.  If Canada does that there is hope that the next COP conference will avoid the deflating experience of COP 22 at Marrakech.

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