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This week, Canada was told it ranks last among the world's richest nations when it comes to environmental protection, and the government accused Europeans of stigmatizing the oil sands. Readers, print and digital, take the climate issue's temperature


Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq says Canada remains committed to its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Alas, the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), issued during the United Nations climate summit, showed Canada to be the worst climate performer in the developed world, with no demonstrated intention of moving forward on climate policy.

Would the Minister of the Environment please tell us what evidence she is using as the basis for her statement about Canada's commitment to improving its performance?

Anthony Ketchum, Toronto


The Earth goes through natural cycles, it does not take a genius to know that. Show me proof that the massive efforts made globally have made one iota of difference.

Does anyone think the Earth came out of the Ice Age without some sort of global warming happening? And this was long before cars, airplanes, recycling etc.

Andrea Blaustein, Gatineau, Que.


It is embarrassing that Canada ranks 55th of 58 countries in terms of in terms of tackling greenhouse-gas emissions.

A carbon fee and dividend curbs demand and gives rise to renewable energy investment. We must accept the end of a fossil fuel era and start building a renewable energy future.

Rochelle Buenviaje, Ottawa


Shame is simply not a word in the Harper government's lexicon. The same week that Canada was ranked dead last (27th of 27) among the world's richest countries for its climate policies – make that climate non-policies – Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was off lecturing the Europeans on having the audacity to call tar-sands oil dirty.

And Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, before heading off to the climate summit, issued a press release that "Canada is taking a leadership role in international climate change efforts by focusing on delivering significant environmental and economic benefits for all Canadians." She must have inhaled one hydrocarbon too many if she thinks we'll believe that one. How dumb do the Conservatives think we are? That the Europeans are?

Norma MacMillan, Winnipeg


Bitumen has to be diluted before it can be transported by whatever means, including pipelines. The name "dirty oil" is generic to the product. Refining it is not without problems, including the fact that carbon emissions during this process are at higher levels than most crude oils.

Aside from carbon emissions, any spills or leaks into a body of water, fresh or salt, will have disastrous results for marine life.

Canada is, to put it crudely, stuck with the problem of what to do with this costly venture in Alberta. Perhaps the only alternative is to refine "in situ" and endeavour to restrict CO2 emissions to a minimum.

Phillip M. Wood, Halifax


Joe Oliver's "hit back" against the EU's proposed fuel-quality directive must count as the weakest counterpunch in the history of political sparring (Oliver Hits Back at EU Over Oil Sands – Nov. 20). The science – rather basic chemistry, actually – behind the EU's proposal does nothing but tell the truth: The "oil" from the Canadian "oil sands" is very, very dirty, and would put a real stress on countries trying, responsibly, to reduce their emissions.

To say that the EU directive is "scientifically inaccurate" is merely to wish to dismantle the periodic table and build up something fantastical in its place. But then, real science has never been so outrageously attacked as under the Harper administration, through cuts, denial and muzzling.

Ian G. Stewart, Halifax


News that it has likely not been this warm in the Arctic in 120,000 years should be on The Globe's front page. I'd love to think information like this would put a fire under Stephen Harper to step up, reflect Canadian values, and be an environmental defender. Instead, Canada attended only part of the Warsaw climate summit, and taxpayer money subsidizes Alberta's tar sands.

If we don't take action soon, it won't just be our great-grandchildren who suffer climate change consequences. Someone please give Mr. Harper a pencil so he can connect the dots.

Penny McLaren, Toronto


The tradeoff between addressing climate change and continuing with aggressive oil production has been clarified – $2-trillion over 25 years from the oil sands – versus a "pristine" environment for our children.

It is pretty clear that any government in Canada is going to pursue its share of the $2-trillion and the "pristine" environment can wait. For the cynical, this might appear to be yet another transfer of wealth to the already-wealthy. How long will it take for climate-change damage to add up to that trillion dollars?

Not long.

Leslie Lavers, Lethbridge, Alta.


While I agree that we should do all we can to reduce, reuse and recycle, global income-redistribution fiascos like Kyoto are not the way to do it.

Neil Bristol, Brampton, Ont.


Canada's history has significantly shaped the average Canadian's pride and appreciation for their landscape. As Stephen Harper quickly degrades the global view of Canada as an environmental leader, future generations may lose appreciation for what it truly means to be Canadian.

Matt Monaghan, Guelph, Ont.



Empty Senate playbook?

Re PM Denies He Knew Of Duffy Plan (Nov. 22): Stephen Harper has run right through his playbook of diversionary tactics: The pandas are here, he put on a cardigan and sang a song, his hockey book is in the shops, he's used up his proroguing quota for the year (one hopes), and even Toronto Mayor Rob Ford couldn't keep the Senate off the front pages for more than a couple of weeks.

Canadians are waiting. Mr. Harper can no longer avoid providing a convincing answer to a $90,000 question.

Chris Clark, Uxbridge, Ont.


No saints in Ottawa

Stephen Harper's government has reduced the burden on Canadian taxpayers; it also has Canada in the front ranks of the G7 in almost every positive financial metric. Yet people are screaming for his head over the actions of a few senators?

There are no saints in Ottawa; anyone who expects to find them is a fool. What we need is sound stewardship that treats all Canadians in an equitable and respectful manner. We have that. Stop complaining, let the government do what it is supposed to do. What a bunch of partisan neophyte babies.

Greg Longphee, Victoria


This money, that money

Re Who Knew What (letters, Nov. 22): Considering the numerous PMO staffers involved, it boggles the mind to understand how the PM was oblivious to it all. He insisted on having three senators suspended for gross negligence in expense claims, ignoring his gross negligence in appointing them in the first place.

As for the Adscam $40-million, what about the $50-million in border-security funds spent on beautifying Tony Clement's riding? Not to mention the $100-million for Economic Action Plan ads.

Robert B. Day, Ottawa


Because he said so

Re Mayor's Numbers Simply Don't Add Up (Nov. 22): Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he saved the city $1-billion.

Why should we believe him? Because he said so.

He also said he wasn't pulled over and charged with refusing to provide a breath sample in Florida, didn't verbally abuse spectators at the Air Canada Centre and never smoked crack cocaine.

Tamara Moscoe, Toronto