The premiers of Nunavut, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, B.C., Saskatchewan and Yukon pose for a "family photo" with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the First Ministers meeting in Ottawa. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)
"It is clear that the way forward for Canada will be in a solution that resembles Canada."Trudeau said in his meetings at the G20 and APEC last week he was encouraged to use Canada's clout within the Commonwealth to encourage some of its members to join the climate fight. "We'll be able to push some of the countries that have been less enthusiastic about an ambitious resolution coming to Paris and actually be an active player and proponent on that stage," said the prime minister. His first stop is Buckingham Palace, where Trudeau has been granted an audience with the Queen on Wednesday. Canadian prime ministers tend to meet the monarch at their first opportunity, but Trudeau will get the chance twice in the same week. The Queen, who turns 90 in April, leaves Thursday for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta, which could be the last such Commonwealth CHOGM (as they are known) she attends. The elderly monarch is now restricting her international travel, and with the next two biennial CHOGMs scheduled to be held outside Europe, royal watchers in the United Kingdom are discussing Malta as a swan song of sorts. Canada under prime minister Stephen Harper skipped the last Commonwealth leaders' meeting in 2013 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, over concerns about that country's human rights record. The Conservative government also cut off millions in Canadian funding for the grouping of 54 countries formerly under British rule, waiting out Sri Lanka's two-year chairmanship. Trudeau said he'll be continuing to raise the issues of human rights and good governance among the fractious, 66-year-old Commonwealth organization. From Malta, Trudeau will arrive in Paris for the opening day of the two-week COP21 climate conference, where more than 160 countries hope to hammer out an international framework for addressing climate change in the post-2020 period.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard look on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference following the First Ministers meeting. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)Canada gained a reputation as a climate laggard during the decade of Conservative rule. Trudeau's been getting a warm international welcome simply for repeatedly stating that his government is prepared to play a constructive role and do its part. "In previous years at the COP conferences, Canada has spoken with different voices that sometimes were contradictory," Trudeau said Monday night. "Some provinces said one thing, the federal government said another. The NGOs said something else altogether. Canada wasn't presenting a cohesive front." The hard decisions on a detailed Canadian plan to actually start reversing emissions trends must wait for another first ministers' conference, to be scheduled within 90 days. In the meantime, Trudeau will ride Canada's unity tailwind to Paris.
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