With the Copenhagen conference almost upon us, I doubt that CBC made many friends among Conservatives by choosing David Suzuki to host The Current yesterday, but I doubt that very many of them were listening. Personally, though I didn't hear much that was new, I found the program very entertaining. Especially when Roger Gibbins - one of our country's leading political scientists - explained why Canada was co-ordinating its position with the United States, only to be confronted by Suzuki: "But aren't we a sovereign country?"
At times, as a political scientist myself, I had to feel some sympathy for Gibbins, who, in the mind of CBC producers though not his own, was substituting for Jim Prentice. For some unfathomable reason, Mr. Prentice declined the invitation to appear. The official explanation was that he was speaking in Edmonton, which he was, but it's hard to understand why he could not have been interviewed by telephone.
Pity, because in his lunchtime speech Prentice gave a rather clear explanation of the thinking behind Canada's position , as reported by Archie McLean of the Edmonton Journal:
"If the U.S. does not make a substantial effort going forward, there is nothing Canada can do. Our own mitigation efforts will be futile. … If we do more than the U.S., we will suffer economic pain for no real environmental gain - economic pain that could impede our ability to invest in new clean technologies. But if we do less, we will risk facing new border barriers into the American market."
On second thought, perhaps the Environment Minister's decision to decline the invitation to appear on The Current is entirely fathomable: he suspected that he'd be asked to respond to brainless questions of the guest host along the lines of, "But aren't we a sovereign country?"
Meanwhile, the Toronto Star is reporting some 'news' about Mr. Prentice's boss: " PM to skip summit on climate change." As I read the Star report, however, I'd say that Mr. Harper, as most good politicians learn to do, is keeping his options open until he sees which way the (Obama) wind is blowing:
"A high-level source involved in the summit preparations told the Star that Harper has already decided against going to Denmark in December. There was no response Friday to an inquiry of the Prime Minister's Office. U.S. President Barack Obama has said he'll only go if a deal is in hand or if his clout and profile will bring one about."
Speaking of the President, Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff was in Fredericton yesterday and accused Mr. Harper of doing less on clean energy than Mr. Obama, and, what really must hurt, less than Sarah Palin. Notably, he did not mention that Mr. Obama has failed to set a carbon emissions target, has abandoned Kyoto and is nixing any other agreement containing binding international targets. And another highlight of the Liberal Leader's visit to New Brunswick was his answer to questions about a local clean energy project - the province's power deal with Québec:
"Shawn Graham doesn't get asked about Afghanistan, and I don't get asked about a provincial matter ... That's how our system works and it is good that we respect provincial jurisdictions on this matter."
It's answers like that that may explain the latest Nanos poll showing the Conservative lead continuing and Mr. Harper widening his personal lead over Mr. Ignatieff - as well as the headline in the La Presse report on that poll, " Canadians don't view Ignatieff as a prime minister."