01/07/2014 03:29 EST | Updated 03/09/2014 05:59 EDT

Tory MP Peter Braid's Late Christmas Gift To Environmentalists


In most Christian churches, Jan. 6 is commemorated as the Epiphany, marking the day when three wise men brought gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh to the baby Jesus.

Monday, Jan. 6 also turned out to be an epiphany of sorts for Canadian environmentalists. In this case, the revelation came from Ontario Conservative MP Peter Braid. The member from Kitchener-Waterloo made a direct link between climate change and extreme weather events during a panel discussion on the CBC News Network program Power and Politics .

“We are seeing the effects, the impacts of climate change,” Braid told host Evan Solomon on Monday.

“With climate change comes extreme weather events. We saw that through the floods in southern Alberta, we’re now seeing that with the ice storms in Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto, with the extreme cold across the country.”

That drew a mixed response from environmental groups.

"It shouldn't be a surprise to hear a member of the government say that climate change is a pressing issue that is already having a serious impact in Canada, but it is," said Clare Demerse of the Pembina Institute in response to hearing the comment. But she was quick to add that she feels the government's actions so far are totally inadequate.

Surprise at the apparent gift was the order of the day with other green groups as well.

"This is a breath of fresh air. I hope he's raising this with his caucus colleagues," Greenpeace Canada's Keith Stewart told the CBC. He went on to stress that weather extremes are only going to get worse if Ottawa doesn't follow through on its commitments.

"It is encouraging to hear decision makers connecting the dots between extreme weather and climate change," said Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence. 

She said actions need to be attached to words and suggested a starting point for the Conservatives. 

"The government could start by putting in place long-promised regulations to rein in the soaring emissions from our fastest growing source of climate pollution — the tar sands."

Meanwhile, over at the Prime Minister's Office, a little tarnish was applied to Braid's present.

"Environment Canada scientists have said that individual weather events cannot be directly linked to climate change," PMO spokesman Stephen Lecce pointed out. 

"That being said, our government is taking action to address climate change through our sector-by-sector regulatory approach. We are the only government to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions and we've accomplished this without needing to impose a job-killing carbon tax on Canadian families.”

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