Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Embarrassed to be Canadian

Almost every country at the UN climate conference in Bali is working hard to tackle climate change. As for Canada? Well, Canada is working hard to weasel out of taking action.

It’s embarrassing.

Let me give you a small example of Canada’s belligerent behaviour at these negotiations.

Last night, the federal government hosted an event to explain its climate change plan.

I decided to go because I was genuinely interested in hearing Environment Minister John Baird speak about Canada’s position (also, there was free food).

I sat down at the back of the room where Baird was hanging out.

At the front of the room, there were three industry representatives up on stage promoting their “clean” technologies. I felt like I had wandered onto the set of an infomercial.

This is strange, I thought to myself. What does this have to do with Canada’s position on climate change?

But I gave Baird the benefit of the doubt and assumed he was waiting for the last minute to take his seat up on stage. But a few minutes after the event started, Baird disappeared and never returned.

An hour later, the moderator announced that Baird wouldn’t be speaking at the event because he “had to go back to the negotiating group.”

At this point, most of the people sitting in the room stood up and left. I was one of them. I was annoyed that the federal government had wasted my time. It was a classic “bait and switch” scheme and I had been duped.

Canada’s bad behaviour isn’t going unnoticed. I had lunch with an Australian journalist today who said the event was a “complete con” and “totally outrageous.”

A Nigerian delegate joined our table. Upon learning I was Canadian, he said, “Aren’t you ashamed to show your face here?”

He started berating me until I waved my pass in his face and told him I was here with an environmental organization, not the federal government.

His tone softened.

“You’re okay,” he said. “But Canada isn’t.”

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