Green Party leader visits Coombs

Elizabeth May says Prime Minister Stephen Harper lacks credibility on climate issues

Green Party leader Elizabeth May addresses supporters in Coombs Saturday.

An offer by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to U.S. President Barak Obama about climate action for the oil and gas sector shouldn’t be taken at face value, says Elizabeth May.

The Green Party leader made the comments at a potluck dinner for party supporters at the Coombs Agricultural Hall on Saturday.

“Stephen Harper wrote to Barak Obama to say if the Keystone pipeline goes ahead, he will bring in some form of regulatory emission reduction plan for the oil and gas industry,” she said. “The reality is that Stephen Harper has been against climate action since he was the leader of the Alliance Party — and probably before then. The first thing he did, unilaterally, was cancel the climate plan brought in by Stephane Dion and Paul Martin. It wasn’t a perfect plan, but it would have taken us very close to our Kyoto target.”

He also, she added, canceled programs that were popular with the public, including the home energy retrofit program.

“We are the only country in the G-8 that didn’t have an opportunity to fund green issues after the 2008 financial crisis,” May said. “The only thing Stephen Harper put in the economic stimulus package for homeowners to get rebates was to address the looming threat — and I’m sure we’re all grateful he grasped the horns of this one — was ugly kitchens. You could get a rebate for a marble countertop, but not for insulation.”

Because of these and other moves, May said, the prime minister has little credibility on climate issues.

“We now have a situation where Stephen Harper has found himself in an unenviable position,” she said. “He thought the jobs argument would be  enough, as well as Trans-Canada Pipeline moving their route to avoid most of the sensitive aquifers in North Dakota. He thought it was a done deal. Suddenly, Barak Obama in his second term decided to do something about climate change and said the key question on whether to approve this pipeline or not will be what the impact is on greenhouse gases.”

May said she hopes Obama won’t be gulled by the move.

“I hope Barak Obama won’t believe him unless he actually sees a regulated plan that’s in place in advance,” she said. “For the last 10 years he has said he would come up with a plan to regulate greenhouse gases, but it’s all a public relations exercise.”