UN Conference On Sustainable Development: Peter Kent, Environment Minister, Says Canada Must Counter Ecologists' 'Misinformation'

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UN CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Environment Minister Peter Kent says Canada must stop the spread of "misinformation" on the environment by ecologists with an ideological agenda. (Getty) | Getty Images
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RIO DE JANEIRO - Environment Minister Peter Kent says Canada must stop the spread of "misinformation" on the environment by ecologists with an ideological agenda.

It's the latest example of strained relations between Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government and the environmental movement.

Kent, who is attending a United Nations conference in Brazil on the environment, said Thursday that ideology has tinged criticism of the federal government's efforts.

"There's been a great deal of misinformation and mischaracterization," said Kent, noting that he's not presenting Canada as a victim.

"I never like to associate with victimization but I think that Canada has been unfairly described as being outside the group of committed countries. We came here in good faith, we negotiated in good faith."

He suggested that environmental groups and competitors in the international market for natural resources "are promoting their own interests."

Kent said this is reflected in the criticism of Canada's policies.

"Ideology plays a role certainly in the criticism," he said, adding that he has a lot of friends in some of the more strident environmental groups.

"I recognize and appreciate their narrow focus on the goals that they want to achieve but in government we have to look at the broader picture and realize that jobs are very often at stake, the economy is very fragile in this economic recovery," he said.

"The environment, yes, must be considered and society's needs. We need to find a fine balance of these things and we have to remember ... that environmental sustainability involves a balance of the environment first but also the economy and society."

He said government has to respond to the so-called misinformation and communicate better.

The Harper government has been knocked by environmentalists for renouncing the targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions contained in the Kyoto accord and its record in general on the environment.

Kent said people should look at the government's policies for themselves.

"The Canadian media as well as the international media need to take a good look at our domestic policies and our, for example, responsible resource development as opposed to what some people are characterizing as cataclysmic to the environmental fate of the world."

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