Wednesday, January 31, 2007
stephen harper believes in the urgency of changing his tunes for votes .
Harper: Global warming requires action
Embattled PM says he now accepts need for climate-change action
Jan 31, 2007 03:47 PM
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper, under fire for past comments questioning climate change, said today he believes in the urgency of combatting global warming.
The prime minister also said today that he supports calls for a world conference on the issue and would attend such a meeting.
"We all recognize this is a serious environmental problem that needs immediate action," Harper told the House of Commons.
"Canada's decision to do nothing over the past decade was a mistake and we want to do better."
Harper made the comment after getting pummelled by his opponents over a 2002 letter in which he questioned the science of climate change and called the Kyoto accord a money-sucking socialist plot.
Harper also vowed in the letter to fight Liberal efforts to ratify Kyoto, which calls for cuts to greenhouse gases.
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said Canada is unfortunate to have a ``climate-change denier" as a prime minister.
Liberals said that for all his talk about climate change today, the 2002 letter unmasks Harper's true opinion.
"Will he admit that this new environmental facade is just an attempt to mislead the Canadian people?" Dion asked.
One by one, Liberal MPs stood in the Commons to ask Harper what he really believes about Kyoto.
"Was the prime minister misleading Canadians then or is he misleading them now?" they asked.
Harper ignored each question, leaving it to Environment Minister John Baird to do battle.
Baird shot back with past quotes by Liberal MPs criticizing Kyoto. He also said he wished the Liberals had cut greenhouse gases while in office.
Some Tory MPs concurred when asked today about the opinions Harper espoused in 2002.
"I hear it's a dog," Tory caucus whip Jay Hill said when asked about the Kyoto accord.
Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer also downplayed the importance of the accord.
"The Kyoto accord itself doesn't do a whole lot – as we've seen with the Liberal record – to reduce greenhouse gases," Scheer said.
"(It's) a trading system, a transfer of wealth from one part of the world to another."
But Scheer and many other Conservatives said they agree that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and said their party is serious about tackling the problem.
"I was (always) in favour of reducing greenhouse gases but I had serious reservations about the effectiveness of Kyoto because many of the largest polluters decided not to sign on," said multiculturalism minister Jason Kenney.
The Conservatives announced in the last election campaign that they considered Kyoto's greenhouse gas-reduction targets unattainable.
But with the environment now becoming an increasingly hot political issue, they avoid criticizing Kyoto and say they want to reverse the damage done under the Liberals.
Canada's emission levels have risen 27 per cent since 1990, while the accord calls for a six per cent cut by 2012.
Harper used that statistic to poke fun at Dion – who has named his dog Kyoto. He said the Liberal leader is in denial about his own party's track record.
"I suggest he should rename that dog for all his various denials," Harper said.
"Perhaps he could call the dog Clean Air, or perhaps he could call it Fiscal Imbalance. Or maybe he could even call his dog The Sponsorship Scandal."