While Obama Fights for Climate, Harper Just Fights

05/18/2014 09:15 EDT | Updated 07/18/2014 05:59 EDT
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BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 27: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not seen) after their meeting in the chancellery, Berlin, Germany on March 27, 2014. (Photo by Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ok, just for fun, let's do a comparative look at recent activity by the U.S. and Canadian governments.

In a flurry of moves the Obama Administration reinstalls solar panels atop the White House, unveils incentives to spur solar and a landmark government report is issued warning of the clear and present danger of climate change.

Impressive, but let's see what's been happening in Canada. No doubt Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been engaged across a series of policy fronts for the betterment of the country.

Sadly no. Right now Harper is fighting with the Supreme Court of Canada. Of course he has every right to complain about the merits of any particular court decision. But that's not what he is doing. He is accusing Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of inappropriate contact between the prime minister's office and the country's top court. It has been well documented that Harper is wrong about this. But of course this will not stop him from undermining the integrity of yet another important institution in Canada.

Democratic countries are nothing without their institutions. Imperfect as they may be, they stand as a bulwark against corruption and the impulses of vested interests. Weakened and corrupt institutions are the hallmarks of corrupt states.

So you got to wonder why Harper would choose to go down this road. Of course it's déjà vu all over again. Recently we saw this same government attacking the integrity of the country's chief electoral officer while introducing the blatantly unfair elections reform act, which is about to be passed into law. There are many other examples of wrong-headed epic battles as well.

We don't know if there were nefarious aims behind these moves. Many certainly suspect there were. But we can all agree on one thing: the energy spent on these sideshows do nothing to help the country move ahead.

Or did I miss something? Let's see what else Harper has been up to. There has been a lot of talk about pipelines. Pipelines to the west, pipelines to the east and pipelines to the south. They are all stalled. Why? Because there is a huge groundswell of opinion against them. But that doesn't stop our petro premier.

Harper is pro-business, believes in small government and free markets. So why does he spend an inordinate amount of time helping oil companies? Oil companies are famously stuffed with cash and know how to win influence from governments the world over.

But for some reason Harper has become the perfect squire for these knights of crude. Again it's not clear what he's thinking. Outside of Alberta, the rest of the country is tanking. We had negative job growth last April and very few jobs have been created for the past several months. Yet all we get from Ottawa is an obsession to build more and more pipelines so we can over-inflate one area of the country.

Again let's look south. The economy is alive with innovation in the renewable energy sector -- from electric cars to advances in the solar sector. The Obama Administration has been out in front on this one and has just announced a plan to spur more solar power and more energy efficiencies.

The administration just released a report that warned the country is already suffering from global warming. Time Magazine called it an "incredibly impressive piece of work." Others are comparing the massive document by the country's leading climate scientists to the landmark 1964 report by the U.S. Surgeon General on smoking, which did so much to stop the spread of tobacco globally.

That's fine for those Americans but wouldn't it be great to get a similar report on Canada's climate? We also need to know how to deal with this catastrophic scourge threatening out shores.

For all those holding your breath, please exhale. No such report is in the offing. Don't expect any honest accounting of where we are at. In fact scientists are being muzzled by the Harper government and environmental groups are being hounded by the tax authorities.

Instead the Harper regime is spending millions of dollars of your money on misleading advertising, including more than $200,000 on a full page ad in the New Yorker to promote the tar sands. But the ad is pretty much a lie from start to finish as the Globe rightly explains in this brilliant takedown.

What kind of government does this? Does the U.S. government need to take out full page ads extolling the virtues of oil boom in North Dakota? No of course not.

So there you have it. The Obama Administration is hardly perfect but it is fighting for jobs and is making big moves in the battle against climate change. Harper, well, he just fights.


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