Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Harper and Bush "Under Fire From Environmentalists"

Harper and Bush under fire from environmentalists
Mike De Souza, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, May 19, 2007

OTTAWA -- Canadian and American politicians renewed attacks on their respective governments Friday over concerns the Harper and Bush administrations are cooking up a scheme to undermine international action on climate change.

While Democratic representatives fired off a harsh three-page letter to U.S. President George W. Bush, urging him to reverse course, opposition MPs in Canada urged the Harper government to back away from plans to invest billions of dollars in a major gas pipeline project and accept a growing scientific consensus about the dangers of global warming.

"Canada has remained silent for weeks, and our international reputation is suffering," said Liberal MP John Godfrey. "Prime Minister (Stephen Harper) and President Bush share several points of view and even share some advisers. On top of that, they share inaction on the issue of climate change."

Environment Minister John Baird insisted he supports the conclusions of recent reports from the United Nations on the latest peer-reviewed research into climate change.

"The government always acts appropriately," Baird said in the Commons. "It will push all countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

But, U.S. Democrats said they were "deeply concerned" about reports that their own government was trying to delay action by deleting lines and modifying warnings in a declaration being prepared for a G-8 summit next month. The declaration would underscore the danger of allowing global temperatures to rise more than 2 C above pre-industrial levels. Earlier this week, Canadian officials also expressed doubts about supporting the warnings at the G-8 summit.

"The scientific consensus tells us that it is too late to avoid some warming, but we may still have time to prevent dangerous warming," reads the letter from the Democrats, sent to Bush on Friday.

"Scientific studies show that a (2 C) increase in global temperatures could result in the extinction of nearly 30 per cent of all living species, bleaching of much of the world's coral, increased risk of wider spread of diseases like malaria, more damage from floods and storms, and increased drought in already dry regions."

In Ottawa, both the Bloc Quebecois and New Democrat environment critics blasted the Conservatives for considering new public spending to make the federal government the controlling stakeholder of a proposed $16.2-billion natural gas pipeline project in the Canadian northwest. Bloc MP Bernard Bigras said public money should be used to promote wind power development instead of subsidies for oil companies. The NDP's Nathan Cullen blamed the government for refusing to analyse the economic consequences of allowing global temperatures to rise by more than 2 C.

"It's one of the greatest threats, particularly to northern economies like Canada, and they haven't looked at it," Cullen said after question period. "But they are looking at buying a $16-billion pipeline. These guys have their priorities so screwed up."

Late in the afternoon, Jim Prentice, the minister responsible for native affairs and northern development, insisted the government has only a technical involvement in the pipeline project and is not seeking a controlling stake.

"Canada's new government is not considering ownership of the Mackenzie gas project, and I have conveyed this message directly to the proponents," Prentice in a statement. He added that the project "must make sense in terms of its economics and as public policy."


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