Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has accused former U.S. vice-president Al Gore of making “wildly inaccurate and exaggerated” claims about the Harper Tories’ record on climate change.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail published Saturday, Al Gore said that while he has always respected Canada, he is disappointed with decisions made by the current government.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner suggested Canada is suffering from a “resource curse,” where revenue streams are tied to the exploitation of a single resource.
“The resource curse has multiple dimensions and [that includes] damage to some extremely beautiful landscapes, not to mention the core issue of adding to the reckless spewing of pollution into the Earth’s atmosphere as if it’s an open sewer,” Gore said.
“Using words like ‘open sewer’ are unfortunate and an attempt to create an impression which is false,” the minister told the Globe on Monday.
Oliver claims Canada’s oilsands industry has reduced emissions per barrel by 26 per cent, giving Conservatives a solid record on which to stand.
Gore’s comments come at an inconvenient time for the minister who will be in Europe this week to fight what he sees as a discriminatory policy against Canadian crude.
Oliver will make a case against the European Union’s new Fuel Quality Directive, which calls on fuel suppliers to reduce greenhouse gases and singles out oil from Alberta’s oilsands as more polluting than others, The Toronto Sun reports.
Of course, this is not the first time the minister, seen as a pipeline prophet pushing the merits of both the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL proposals, has had to get his back up.
Last month, Oliver had harsh words for renowned NASA scientist James Hansen, who said it would be “game over” for the climate if oilsands development isn’t stopped.
In a much-discussed column in The New York Times, Hansen wrote that “Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history.”
Oliver slammed that argument as nonsense and said Hansen should be “ashamed” to be using such “exaggerated rhetoric.”
Hansen recently returned fire by calling the Conservatives a desperate and "Neanderthal" government on CBC Radio's The House.
"They're in the hip pocket of the fossil fuel industry, as you can see, but that doesn't mean that the Canadian people are," he said.
Oliver also drew controversy last month when he questioned the science of climate change and told Montreal’s La Presse newspaper that “people aren’t as worried as they were before about global warming of two degrees.”
He later clarified in a federal natural resources committee meeting that he does believe climate change is a “serious issue.”