Dialogue of the Deaf

Elizabeth May
Watching Question Period from the gallery is a bleak form of entertainment. The behaviour continues to be raucous and rude, especially from the Conservative benches. There is so much yelling that the questioners can only be heard through the amplification of listening devices. I choose to listen without the amplified voice of the questioner as often as possible to pick up on the heckling and its content. It is usually pretty childish stuff. Often sexist as well. The exchanges have the quality of a dialogue of the deaf. I keep wanting to get up and shout an explanation to the melee below. Today, for example, John Godfrey (Liberal Environment Critic) followed up on Minister Rona Ambrose's testimony yesterday at the House environment committee. She had contradicted her testimony of October 4 by claiming that Canada was, now, not against using credits under Kyoto for Clean Development Mechanism projects (for details on CDM, see our Green Party, GP Squared document). In October she attacked CDM as a mechanism steeped in corruption. In November in Nairobi at the UN conference she sounded supportive of CDM credits. Yesterday, she said she would use CDM if credits were for verifiable carbon reductions. As third party verification is already part of the CDM architecture, this was a complete turn around. Today she reversed herself again. To a question from Godfrey, she reverted to her earlier position: that the Canadian government would not use CDM credits. Yesterday, when asked, why Canada had not met its financial commitment to the CDM (the focus of a previous Green Party press conference), her first reply was that Canada had met all its commitments to the UN system. When this reply was met with consternation from opposition MPs who said they had a list from the UN that made it clear Canada had not delivered on our pledge of $1.5 million to the CDM, Ambrose again claimed that Canada was "on track" to meet all our Kyoto commitments except the targets (I cannot wait to get Hansard to confirm that quote, but that is from my notes what she said.) A civil servant from Environment Canada bravely attempted to pass her a note and ended up having to take a seat and explain to the committee that, in fact, the $1.5 million had not been paid. That Environment Canada has a proposal for the Minister, but it had not yet made it to her desk.... This is, of course, impossible to be mere delay. As President of the Conference of the Parties (COP) until the Nairobi meeting began in November, every effort at Environment Canada would have been focused on giving the minister a few "deliverables" for Nairobi. We don't have a commitment to our legally binding targets. The Harper government has announced we have no intention of meeting them. We don't have any climate action plan. So, any civil servant would have rejoiced at knowing a small contribution of $1.5 million, promised by the previous government in the last COP would have been a good news announcement. Ambrose did not make that announcement. The $1.5 million is outstanding. Today, in the House, Godfrey pursued the matter. Today, Ambrose stated that all our obligations to the UN for Kyoto were fully paid up. Godfrey replied that the payment must have happened over night. I doubt he had actually missed her carefully worded response. A pledge by Canada is not legally binding. Our promise to make a $1.5 million contribution is not a legal obligation. Once again, her answer was technically correct, but entirely misleading. I could go on about the daily shots fired back and forth. Women opposition MPs point out that the Harper government has cut $5 million from women's programmes. Minister Oda says nothing is cut. Back and forth. Truth is $5 million was cut from women's groups Harper's government does not like and will be allocated (or is likely to be allocated next spring) to women's groups they do like..... Lies masquerading as truth. Bullies masquerading as MPs.