01/08/2014 12:25 EST | Updated 03/09/2014 05:59 EDT

Climate Change Reveals Cracks in Conservative Caucus

I suppose it would have been naïve of Mr. Harper to think that his Conservative-Reform-Alliance-Party Coalition would survive a decade of individual suppression and message control. The cracks have shown in the past, but were hastily and quietly covered over with the aid of Question Period spinmeisters like Paul Calandra and Pierre Poilievre.

The pressure cooker that is the Conservative caucus has prompted some MPs and Senators to resign, but a growing cohort of moderate Conservatives are beginning to speak out.

Late last month, it was revealed that the Environment Minister rejected several suggested lines from her department in her response to the IPCC Report which unequivocally showed that human-caused global warming is a reality.

Instead of using the recommended language that Canada takes global warming seriously and that we recognize that human-caused climate change is a serious issue that must be dealt with, the Harper Government touted their non-existent record and resorted to taking pot-shots at the opposition.

Rather than take a leadership role and begin to regain the respect of the international community, the Minister retreated to the warm comforts of the Conservative Standard Operating Procedure Manual: deflect, confuse, and when all else fails, blame the Liberals.

It seems that Conservative Peter Braid (Kitchener-Waterloo) has grown tired of this silly cycle. Yesterday on CBC's Power and Politics, Braid, in a rare display of independent and conscious thought for a Tory MP, proclaimed that climate change is both very real and is responsible for recent extreme weather events.

Peter Braid, as in the Wizard of Oz, had the courage of the cowardly lion, the heart of the tin man, the brains of the scarecrow and when he pulled back the curtain of the PMO's message machine. Parroting patent untruths about Climate Change does nothing to enhance your electability in 2015.

The Prime Minister's approach to Climate Change, which has been to ignore it completely, has cost Canada dearly, both economically and diplomatically. For someone apparently trained in economics, the Prime Minister seems to have missed the point that without the environment, there is no economy.

Furthermore, for someone who reads so avidly, it is unthinkable that he missed the fact that our largest trading partner and closest neighbor and ally has a firm agenda and a strong mandate to tackle Climate Change.

Harper decided to actively ignore this and resort to threatening President Obama when it came time to deal with Keystone XL. Had Harper paid attention to the President's cues and made some progress toward reducing our GHG emissions, he would have had Keystone approved already.

Maybe the PM's instincts are getting rusty, but some in his caucus are certainly becoming restless. Peter Braid's recent display of independent thinking might signal the beginning of the end of tight message control for the Harper Government™.

Hon. John McKay is the Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Guildwood and the Liberal Party Environment Critic

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