Prime Minister Harper was asked about climate change and Canada’s involvement in COP 21. Harper said simply he is optimistic that an acceptable international agreement will be reached at Paris. In that connection he noted that Canada had submitted its climate targets to the UN.
“Optimistic?”: If Prime Minister Harper had any appreciation of the obstacles towards reaching an effective agreement, he would have used another expression. But that may be his point: Canada will find an ineffective, undemanding agreement quite acceptable!
“Submitted climate targets”: Canada’s targets lack any laws or policies to confirm Canada is capable of meeting those targets.
He also claimed his government has “presided over a decline” in GHG emissions – an allegation less than a “half truth”. This decline in emissions reflected the impact of the Great Recession of 2008- 2009, and had very little to do with actions by his government.
Harper prefaced his remarks with the observation that as he did not consider climate change policy to be an election issue. He was focusing on the economy.
Climate change has certainly been the subject of comment. The other three parties have adopted policy statements in their election platform. But nothing has happened in the debates or the public statements that suggests any party (The Green Party excepted) regards the subject as a significant vote-getter.
That is what Harper is counting on. The Liberal and NDP have a chance to defeat his government but appear to be looking for voter support generated by other issues. If Harper is right that means the economy, the strongest plank in the Conservative campaign platform, and presently the predominant element in voter choice.
Megan Leslie, the NDP Environment critic, quickly pointed out that the environment and the economy are not unrelated issues. She referred to the failure of the Conservative Government to support renewable energy, which could well prove to be the basis of our economy in future years.
Elizabeth May commented that the he Liberals and the NDP have not communicated the urgency of the climate issue to the voters. Perhaps that is why Harper does not consider it to be an election issue.
The Federal Election Campaign is just getting started. Let’s hope Harper is proved wrong.