Reflecting back, given the seriousness of the crisis as it is now being described internationally, it is difficult to understand how Toronto's protests and climate talks were allowed to be so meaningless. These weaknesses, plus deplorable reporting by mainstream media, are responsible for millions of Canadians being poorly informed and not taking the threat of potentially disastrous climate change seriously.
By the end of March, Ottawa should have announced its plan to contribute to global efforts to reduce carbon pollution. Yet, silence reigned in the Great White North. That favourite stalling tactic of Canadian negotiators that says we won't reduce our emissions if others refuse to act simply doesn't hold when others have indeed kept their promises.
The bottom-line is that Canada needs to get serious about climate change, and that starts with acknowledging that the emperor has no clothes. It's a reality made even more glaring by recent United States Environmental Protection Agency report that found that the Keystone XL pipeline would have a significant impact on carbon emissions from tar sands expansion. With the NEB application period closing on March 3 and hundreds of people across Canada already having applied asking to speak on climate, the NEB could choose to buck from Harper's agenda and include climate change in the review.
Society as a whole saw jobs created, collected tax dollars and bore at least some of the blame, for the harm caused by both tobacco and asbestos. And yet this did not absolve the manufacturers of responsibility for the damage caused by their product. So yes, we are all responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, but fossil fuel companies are much more responsible.
While it will be a huge task, people in different countries must form some sort of power base that can challenge corporate power and also influence the signing of a world climate agreement. For our part in North America, it's unfortunate that the NGO environmental sector is so seriously split that it can't be called a movement.