I was delighted to read Minister Aglukkaq's reply to my latest article, Stephen Harper and the Chamber of Secrets. I am encouraged to know that she is reading something other than her cue cards. Unfortunately, much of the content of her article borrows heavily from her canned talking points.
I would encourage the Minister to nurture her newfound interest in literature, because if she pursues her muse she will know that Lord Voldemort returns with a vengeance halfway through the Harry Potter series. However the Ministry of Magic refuses to believe it. In spite of evidence to the contrary, numerous warnings from Harry and his classmates, the Ministry appoints Dolores Umbridge as the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts who transforms the school into a dictatorial regime and refuses to let the kids learn to defend themselves.
Astute readers of the series and keen political observers may see parallels to the current Harper Government™ as it seems to operate in a parallel universe clinging to its fantasies, denying obvious facts, and not helping Canadians adapt to the profound changes climate disruption will inevitably bring.
The Minister is entitled to her fantasies; however she is not entitled to the facts.
Fantasy: The United States is following Canada's example by regulating its coal-fired electricity sector.
Fact: The United States' biggest GHG emitter is the coal industry and the President is taking bold action to reign in emissions. Canada's largest GHG emitter is the Oil and Gas industry -- not the coal industry. The Government of Canada has no plan to regulate our largest emitter. The Minister won't even admit that she has met with industry representatives let alone negotiated with them. Furthermore, she cannot take credit for phasing out coal when it was the work of individual provinces like Ontario and Alberta that did the heavy lifting.
Fantasy: The Government's sector-by-sector approach will protect both the environment and the economy.
Fact: Some recent headlines:
Globe and Mail: "Canada's lagging on climate change is putting the economy at risk"
The Canadian Press: "Canada's Climate Policy Worst in the Developed World"
IMF: "The costs of inaction on climate change are irreversible and potentially catastrophic."
The Government of Canada was forced to regulate the transportation sector because the United States would have prohibited the sale of Canadian-made vehicles had Canada not followed suit.
Fantasy: Canada is a global leader in the effort to tackle Climate Change and Clean Air.
Fact: The 2014-2015 Report on Plans and Priorities show that Minister Aglukkaq's Government will cut Climate Change and Clean Air programs by 70 per cent between now and 2017. Furthermore, her Government is cutting international climate change and clean air funding by 45 per cent and staffing levels by over 80 per cent.
Toronto Star: "Echoes of Walkerton in Environment Canada cuts"
Cambridge Times: "Environment Canada braces for cuts to climate programs"
The Tyee: "Facing Millions in Cuts, Environment Canada Prepares to Get Lean"
Fantasy: The Conservative Government has made significant investments in infrastructure and green technology because they take the issue of Climate Change seriously.
Fact: The Minister can't even name one specific project to corroborate her claim and I invite her to do so. There is little wonder why, considering the Conservatives have cut the Building Canada Fund by 90 per cent in this fiscal year so that they can "balance" the budget next year.
Fantasy: Conservative action has lowered GHGs to 130 megatonnes, far lower than levels would have been under the Liberals, who took no action on climate change.
Fact: The Liberal Government of Jean Chrétien ratified the Kyoto Protocol and was committed to meeting our targets. Minister Aglukkaq's Government formally pulled out of the accord in 2010 and then formally committed to 2020 Copenhagen targets. By all estimates, Canada will miss even our new targets by a wide margin. The chart below demonstrates the abandoned Kyoto targets, Canada's Copenhagen targets, and projected emissions trends:
Before Lord Voldemort is defeated he gains control of the Ministry of Magic so that fantasy becomes fact and fact becomes fantasy. We can only hope that the dawn of reality will bring an end to her fantastical thinking.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: