Ottawa wants a Kyoto plan
Date: Saturday, November 23 2002
Topic: International News
By RICK BELL -- Calgary Sun
Well, they can have a Kyoto plan. They can have 13 plans. In fact, they can choke on a cornucopia of Kyoto plans. Perhaps then and only then will the climate truly change -- at least the political climate.
As Ottawa prepares to push with their no-pain, no-cost, no-details Pollyanna still-not-a-plan plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and presumably make the world a cooler place, Alberta turns up the heat.
"We will not be raped again," says Lorne Taylor, the province's pull-no-punches environment minister, referring once again to the nutty and nasty National Energy Program, once touted as the salvation of the nation.
Taylor speaks to the Sun after just returning from the heartland, marvelous Milk River, where he hears from students. "School kids kept coming up to me saying: Keep going, Mr. Taylor. Don't let them do it to us."
Them is Ottawa. Them always seems to be Ottawa.
Them just don't seem to like us, except as a cash cow or a whipping boy.
Taylor now touts a united-we-stand tactic he'll push this week with the nine other provinces and three territories. He wants them to come up with their own ways to cut greenhouse gases. By doing this, so the thinking goes, Ottawa will either have to negotiate with the provinces or go after 13 separate jurisdictions, a terrible tie-up in the courts.
"Can you imagine? It would be a massive thing for them to handle and could take years and years. How long do they want to delay?" asks Taylor. "It becomes an incentive for them to be reasonable with the provinces. This may put pressure on them to come to the table. Maybe they will then finally see some sense. Besides, Chretien is interested in ratification of Kyoto for his personal aggrandizement. After that, it'll go off his radar screen."
"But it won't go off ours. Saskatchewan is very unhappy. So is Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and B.C. I've talked to Quebec and, quite frankly, they are interested, they are definitely not opposed to having a discussion about it."
"I don't think the officials in the federal government are all uneducated or stupid. They have to understand the damage this can do to the economy. There will be significant job losses, significant costs in Alberta. Big numbers. Billions."
Up until now, of course, Ottawa could care less what Alberta thinks about this or any other matter. They just take our money and run, this time playing the Kyoto protocol as a crusade by the enlightened and righteous federal government against backward, ugly, selfish Alberta.
"In fact, they've been totally unreasonable and totally arrogant. They don't tell the truth," says Taylor, who, on Thursday, likened the updated Ottawa Kyoto caper to "putting lipstick on a pig. A reporter asked what does lipstick on a pig look like? I said: Imagine David Anderson," says Taylor.
Anderson is Ottawa's environment minister. For obvious reasons, Taylor and Anderson are not on each other's Christmas card lists.
So, Premier Ralph will talk with his provincial counterparts Monday. A meeting of provincial environment and energy ministers slated for this coming Friday is still up in the air.
Taylor is not showing up unless other provinces want to continue the fight.
"I'm not interested in just flying to Toronto. I've got better things to do with my life." Besides, it's not as clean as Alberta. Now isn't that ironic.
Taylor says he remains committed. Alberta will not sign on to Ottawa's undefined, ill-advised and definitely not excellent adventure.
"There's no recognition of the partnership with the provincial governments, no accounting of the risk, no idea of the costs to consumers or to industry. If the federal government wants to make a commitment, they should pay for the losses. But the prime minister says it won't cost anything. Get serious."
So Lorne, how do you really feel?
He just laughs.