02/25/2012 11:27 EST | Updated 04/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Rebutting Peter Kent

First, props to HuffPost for getting Peter Kent into its office to answer some questions. Goodness knows Canadians need better answers from an Environment Minister whose reputation is that of acting on behalf of the tar sands industry rather than the environment.

But, given his awful record, the printed interview came off very much in the vein of "kid gloves."

Where was the line of questioning exposing his many failures to either regulate or enforce existing environmental regulations, as his job description requires? His office has been repeatedly sued for failure to enforce endangered species legislation. All independent experts believe his efforts to rein in carbon pollution fall far short of his own stated targets, and reports are his proposed regulations for the tar sands will let emissions there grow, rather than rapidly shrink as the science says they must. And, under his watch, scientists remain muzzled. We could go on, and on.

This man simply isn't doing his job, and HuffPost should have done a better job of calling him on it. Regarding points he did make in the interview, I offer the following rebuttals:

1) When Peter Kent says that his government's position is that climate change "is a global challenge that requires global solutions," this is code for his government refusing to do much of anything to rein in Canadian carbon pollution until others do it first. In other words, much like in the nuclear war context he's defaulting to Mutually Assured Destruction, with the key difference that in this case we get there by continuing to do nothing rather than something. Also contrast this position with Harper's statements about showing leadership and not waiting for others anytime it comes to shooting or bombing around the world.

2) It's pretty rich that Peter Kent claims to have had "strong" exchanges with the Chinese as to whether they will participate in a new climate change regime, when it was in fact China and many other countries criticizing Canada for dropping out of Kyoto, the only real game in town on that front. The Chinese national news agency (an arm of the government) called Canada's position "preposterous" and "irresponsible."

3) Peter Kent's claimed reliance on "improved technology" to tackle climate change both at home, and by selling it overseas, is quite frankly pie in the sky. Carbon capture and storage, if it ever proves technically viable (and there are huge doubts), is very expensive, meaning industry would only ever do it if they were forced to do so (unless heavily subsidized), something Peter Kent seems totally unwilling to do. So, the whole technology thing is for now empty rhetoric to distract people from the fact that the responsible regulator -- Peter Kent -- is sitting on his hands.

4) His speculation about foreign economic interests bankrolling environmental campaigns in Canada is pure fantasy unworthy of a minister of the Crown, showing just how far we have fallen as a country in the rhetoric used by politicians today. Neither Kent nor anyone else has any proof of this, because there isn't any. It's a red herring used to distract from the real issues -- the issues that Peter Kent is supposed to be addressing as Minister of the Environment. Furthermore, what is Kent's position on the fact that foreign oil companies have bankrolled Enbridge's lobbying and PR campaign around the Gateway tar sands campaign? Again, failure to ask him the right questions lets him entirely off the hook in his rhetoric.

5) Finally, Peter Kent says that Kyoto is "almost irrelevant" now. His government has done more than any other on the planet to make it so. He has no viable plan to tackle global warming so that the children of Canada can have a safe future. This is his biggest failure as Environment Minister, and how history will judge him unless there is a massive turnaround in his performance.