“It is time we hold our governments accountable,” writes local contributor

Dear Editor:

“The immediate threat to the global effort to sustain a peaceful and stable world comes not from Saudi Arabia or Iran or China. It comes from Canada. How could that be true?” Dec. 2009, Worldwide respected Guardian journalist George Monbiot

In 1998, Canada’s government signed on to the international treaty on climate change, the Kyoto Accord, calling for a six-per-cent reduction in green house gas emissions by 2012, in comparison with 1990 levels. While an industrial country like Germany already has achieved levels below the 1990 level, Canada emits full steam ahead by producing 26 per cent more emissions than in 1990.

Polls show that Canadians are not well informed and thus not alarmed while the Canadian government abroad does everything in its power to wreck talks and protocols that seek reduction in emissions. Canada is rapidly spoiling its international image of peacekeeper and beacon of democracy, as people all over the world feel the heat of monsoons, hurricanes, droughts and rising sea levels. Many governments exclusively negotiated on behalf of heavy industries. In the wake of their citizen’s outcry for “action now,” they no longer can afford to do that.

Canada’s government, however, continues to negotiate on behalf of its heavy industry and counts on the Canadian media to: under report international pressure, throw cold water on alarming melting glaciers and drastic rising sea levels, and over report Big Oil financed messages of manmade climate change denial, allowing many Canadians to continue to walk in ignorance. North America has still a very high percentage of people believing that manmade climate change is political hype.

Danielle Smith, the treasured leader of the Wild Rose Alliance, the party that according to a poll of the Calgary Herald in November 2009 likely will form the next government in Alberta, is proud to express her believes that climate change is not manmade. Everywhere else in the world that would be political suicide, but not in Alberta. The Harper government has made itself famous, well beyond the national scene in Ottawa, for its image as an ostrich head stuck into tar sands. Canada’s government is now internationally viewed as a thuggish petro state regime that was: wrecking talks at the Bali meeting in 2007, undermining the work of internationally well respected Canadian scientists contributing to the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change and now again in Copenhagen, singling itself out as a bully in an international community that sincerely is looking for solutions.

Last month, Commonwealth heads of state battled for hours against Canadian obstructions. A campaign has begun to expel Canada from the Commonwealth. If Canadians would know of what was going on, the Harper government would be sent home immediately. In the Harper government’s view, the narrow economic interest of Shell, Suncore, Syncrude, BP, Halliburton, Epcor, Altalink, Encana, Nexen and other big companies are synonymous with true Canadian values. It is time ordinary Canadians rise up to make clear that this is not true.

As already is proven in Germany, energy conservation and policies enhancing the development of renewable energy resources are providing more employment than non- renewable energy development and allow for reduction in greenhouse gasses at the same time. The Calgary-based Pembina Institute does great work showing that alternative path as being possible and attractive in Alberta too. The Alberta Federation of Labour participated in a comprehensive report by David Thompson, showing how many jobs are created by a change in policy toward renewable energy. Canada’s image abroad is being tarnished by the Canadian government’s persistent bullying during international negotiations.

The true values of Canada reflect a positive contribution to solving the challenges the world is facing. It is time we hold our governments accountable, by taking the threat against the future of our children and grandchildren seriously.

Jan Slomp,