Gilbert and Sullivan on Canada’s climate leadership!

As did many grandparents, I grew up with Gilbert & Sullivan operettas.  Regrettably these charming musical and literary offerings are the now preserve of traditionalists.  But they still have a message for our times.

I sang – not very well and so not very loudly – in the chorus of “The Gondoliers”.  One of the leading characters in the Gondoliers was a regimental commander, the Duke of Plaza-Toro. (For Gilbert & Sullivan diehards go to YouTube to appreciate the Duke at his finest!)

The recent performance of Canada at COP19 reminded me of the Duke.

At COP 19 our new Minister of the Environment proudly stated:

Canada is taking a leadership role in international climate change efforts by focusing on delivering significant environmental and economic benefits for all Canadians.” 


Canada has been ranked dead last among 27 wealthy nations in the protection of the environment.  And fourth from last amongst 58 nations in terms of tackling GreenHouse Gas emissions.  So if that is leadership Canada is right there with the Duke who boldly sings of himself that

“In enterprise of martial kind whenever there was fighting, he led his regiment from behind – he found it less exciting”.

Yet leading from behind has certain advantages, as the Duke further recites:

“But when away his regiment ran, his place was in the fore-o -”

Just like Canada – running away from Kyoto, running away from Copenhagen targets, running away from the Green Climate fund, but certainly in the fore-o of the chatter about supporting a new climate change agreement.

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