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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Harper Haunted by Letters Past

It is interesting that Harper did not say straight out that he no longer believes the position outlined in his letter. He did say though that he accepted the science and was going to act. THe NDP seems to be co-operating with the Conservatives to at least get stronger environmental legislation passed. The Conservatives were also on the attack against the Liberal environmental record a easy target since the Liberals did little to meet Kyoto targets.


Kyoto letter has come back to haunt Harper, Liberal MPs say
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 | 4:36 PM ET
CBC News
Opposition Liberal MPs demanded Wednesday that Prime Minister Stephen Harper explain a letter he apparently wrote five years ago in which he derides the Kyoto accord.

Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion asked Harper twice in question period to indicate whether his position on the issue has changed.

"Canada is unfortunate enough to have a prime minister who is a climate change denier," Dion said in the House of Commons.

"A real leader says he was wrong and says, 'I agree I was wrong and I changed my mind,'" he said.

In the letter, written in 2002, Harper describes Kyoto as a "socialist scheme" designed to suck money out of rich countries.

"Will he admit that the new environmental facade is just an attempt to mislead the Canadian people?" asked Dion.

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The letter, on the federal Liberal party website, was apparently written by Harper when he was leader of the now-defunct Canadian Alliance party.

Government acting: Harper
Harper, who did not acknowledge in question period that he wrote the letter, replied to Dion: "This government has made it clear in the election campaign that we accept the science and that's why we're acting."

He said the government has acted by introducing Canada's clean air act, proposed legislation to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. It is before a special legislative committee.

Harper added that Dion should give a new name to his dog, known as Kyoto, to reflect "various denials" by the Liberals on important issues.

Harper said Dion could call his dog Clean Air, Fiscal Imbalance, or even The Sponsorship Scandal.

The prime minister said later he believes there should be a world conference on climate change and he would be willing to go to such a meeting.

"We all recognize this is a serious environmental problem that needs immediate action," Harper told the House of Commons.

"Canada's decision to do nothing over the past decade was a mistake and we want to do better."

Environment Minister John Baird came to Harper's defence over the letter, quoting passages from Liberal MPs who had criticized Kyoto.

Baird said the Liberals had done nothing to cut greenhouse gases while they were power.

'Prisoners of past beliefs'
Earlier on Parliament Hill, other Liberal MPs said the past has come back to haunt Harper.

"People are prisoners of their past beliefs," said Michael Ignatieff, Liberal MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

"It's very difficult for a leopard to change its spots."

John McCallum, Liberal MP for Markham-Unionville, said: "That's the real Mr. Harper. Today's Mr. Harper is the one who reads polls."

Conservative MPs, meanwhile, when asked before question period about the letter, dismissed its importance and said they do not think much of Kyoto anyway.

"I hear it's a dog," Tory caucus whip Jay Hill said.

Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer said: "The Kyoto accord itself doesn't do a whole lot — as we've seen with the Liberal record — to reduce greenhouse gases.

"It's a trading system, a transfer of wealth from one part of the world to another."

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