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A Canadian flag flies in front of smoke stacks at a steel mill in Hamilton in February of 2007. (J.P. MOCZULSKI)
A Canadian flag flies in front of smoke stacks at a steel mill in Hamilton in February of 2007. (J.P. MOCZULSKI)

Norman Spector

Undermining Canada Add to ...

Yesterday, The Canadian Press reported that "the government's push to abandon much of the Kyoto protocol prompted dozens of developing countries to walk out on Canada's address during recent climate talks in Thailand."

Buried deep in the report, we learn that the Canadian position is supported by "other industrial countries." Nowhere in the report, however, is it mentioned that one of these industrial countries is the United States. Nor do we learn in the CP report that the real clash at the meeting occurred between the Obama Administration and China, according to a report last week in the Guardian.

Also yesterday, Michael Ignatieff, in a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade, emphasized the need for Canada "to get serious about clean energy." While that was his "core message," Mr. Ignatieff went out of his way to refer to the walkout in the course of his speech. As to the United States, he stated: "We need to work with Washington, but we can't just wait for Washington."

Notably, however, Mr. Ignatieff did not take a position on the issue that prompted the walkout on Canada and the confrontation between China and the United States - or even refer to that confrontation. Perhaps this was simply business as usual when you are in opposition - criticizing without committing to a position. Or perhaps as Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Mr. Ignatieff, respecting the adage that politics ends at the shoreline, is being careful not to undermine Canada's position in international talks. This is a consideration that reporters should keep in mind in dealing with foreign delegations whose overriding objective is not to combat climate change, but to promote their national interests, not ours.

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