Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Canada vilified in Copenhagen

It should come as little shock that the Canadian delegation ended its first day in Copenhagen with the dishonour of a fossil of the day award, bestowed on countries with the worst performance at international climate negotiations.

In his first public address at the conference, Canada's chief negotiator, Michael Martin, reaffirmed this country's position on greenhouse gas emissions -- which work out to a reduction of three per cent below 1990 levels. That's far below the 20 per cent reduction that the European Union has settled on and distant from the 20 to 40 per cent reduction that climate scientists tell us we have to make in order to avoid a catastrophic rise in global temperatures.

Canada has been called such harsh names as "thuggish, petro-state", "climate crook", and the world's "dirty old man".

Harper himself has been framed as the "bad guy of global warming", and an image of his face (digitally aged to look like an, ahmen, old man) even greeted delegates at the airport in Copenhagen, on a poster that read: "I'm sorry. We could have stopped catastrophic climate change. . . we didn't."

Officials are well aware of the big black oily target on Canada's back. The response? Send Rob Renner, the environment minister of Alberta.

Renner told the Calgary Herald that he was convinced a breakthrough agreement was likely and wanted to make Alberta's position known -- that position being to support Stephen Harper's.

You can say one thing about this government when it comes to climate -- it's consistent. Last week Prentice assured a meeting of Montreal business leaders that Canada would maintain its tough stance in Copenhagen (you can almost see it sitting there at the table, arms stiffly crossed, chin jutting out defensively) and certainly wasn't going to buy into all of the hype.

"But then what are the negotiations all about? Sometimes we need a little build-up! Confronting a global dilemma is a complex game of chess, nobody will move if the others balk," commented Rosa Kouri, who is following the Canadian delegation in Copenhagen.

It seems a logical political move to make, given the level of public support for stronger emissions targets. In a poll released yesterday, 64 per cent of respondents said industrialized nations ought to commit to higher and harder targets than developing ones, and 81 per cent wanted Canada to act independently of the U.S.

There have been arrests on Parliament Hill, occupations of MPs' offices and protests around the country. People who have never waved a banner in their lives are joining in the protest of how Canada is behaving in Copenhagen, including a minister in Toronto who has sworn to fast for seven days and stake out at the constituency offices of Harper and Prentice. Indeed, churches are just one of many special interest groups joining the call for strong climate leadership.

And, it's the alliances forming in this protest movement that give Naomi Klein hope, she explains -- but not the possibility that anything significant will be accomplished in Copenhagen over the next two weeks.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus