Week Nine: Canada’s place in the world

If the environment is your key election issue, perhaps one of the most disheartening, repetitive elements of media coverage through August and September has been the consistent look at oil, pipelines, climate change, and conservation through the lens of a slow economy. With one set of issues tied, always, to the other, it is difficult to discuss seriously the notion of doing anything that could further slow the economy. Yet to seriously (hope to) turn things around on the environment, isn’t such a discussion necessary?

On this down-beat, I start this week with an offering of pieces that reflect upon Canada’s place in the world:

Even if the environment is not your issue, Mark MacKinnon’s analysis for the Globe and Mail, “Harper’s world: Canada’s new role on the global stage,” is a must-read. If the environment is your issue, this is a place to pause:

Environmentalists remain […] in shock over Canada’s 2011 decision to withdraw from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse-gas emissions. The Canada that brought the world together in 1987 to sign the Montreal Protocol to combat ozone-depleting substances seemed to have changed almost unrecognizably.

Going into this week’s leaders’ debate, global environmental politics professor Dr. Peter Stoett offers this primer, which includes this take on the importance of discussing climate change:

Climate change should be foremost in any discussion of foreign policy. Canada has not only flouted the global trend toward serious action on climate change, but has also pulled out of an inexpensive convention on desertification and has not been the leader it could be in promoting sustainable development with alternative energy technology. [….]

I hope the leaders will make bold commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions and move away from the energy superpower rhetoric that contributes to the diminishment of Canada’s reputation among those who will be most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and reduces our buoyant, multi-dimensional economy to a resource-based dependency.

I would also like to see discussion of other issues related to the environment: the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, the oceans, responsible Canadian investments abroad and conserving biodiversity worldwide. But I doubt we will get there.

Further on climate change, Germany’s ambassador has said Canada is needed as a strong climate ally this fall in Paris, and Hillary Clinton envisions Canada, the United States, and Mexico working as a team on a new climate strategy. Clinton also swept headlines last week with her (long awaited) voiced opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry bitumen from Alberta to the Gulf Coast — her opposition has ramifications for Canada’s election, though after reading this piece from the UK-based Guardian, it’s difficult to gauge the actual impact of her announcement.

More on oil & politics in Quebec

The French-language debate last week offered insight into how oil politics play in Quebec, and this excerpt from a CBC story offers a neat, if distractingly leader-centered summary:

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe pressed the NDP leader, who goes by Tom in English but Thomas in French, on his views on oilsands.

The BQ leader cited comments that Mulcair had made in French and in English on the topic, suggesting they were contradictory.

“I’d like to know if Tom talks to Thomas from time to time,” quipped Duceppe.

More interesting, however, is an exchange regarding exporting water.

Other headlines this week

One Reply to “Week Nine: Canada’s place in the world”

  1. I don’t understand how the environment and climate change can apparently be at the forefront of the minds of so many Canadians, and yet no one seems to be talking about it.

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