The Small Men of Confederation
QUEBEC CITY–An Ontario-Quebec accord on climate change has yet to be officially unveiled, but Ottawa is already slamming it as nothing more than "smoke and mirrors."
Premier Dalton McGuinty and Quebec Premier Jean Charest are to release their proposal for an inter-provincial carbon-trading market at a joint meeting of their cabinets here today.
Under this so-called cap-and-trade system, companies that produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their caps permit could sell their unused quota on an open market to big polluting firms that exceed their emissions cap.
The leaders of Canada's two largest provinces say their historic deal proves they are leading the fight to save the environment, and they made it clear they believe the federal government is dragging its feet on climate change.
But federal Environment Minister John Baird yesterday dismissed the premiers' proposal, telling the Star the scheme is virtually meaningless without an enforcement component to punish polluters.
But Baird, speaking from Ottawa, said that "a trading regime is only good if you have laws forcing big polluters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions."
"This could give big polluters another three or four years before they're forced to do anything," he said, urging the provinces to buy into federal proposals intended to cut Canada's greenhouse gas emissions to 20 per cent below 2006 levels by 2020 and penalize scofflaws.
For those who missed Baird’s QP interview on Sunday, it was truly something else. In it, he praised Mike Harris and the Alberta government for the their efforts to cut emissions, while repeatedly lashing out at McGuinty and Charest. All of this on an issue he could have dismissed with a “this isn’t the most effective way to go about it in our opinion, but we welcome any moves the Premiers make to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions”.
Not that gratuitous attacks on McGuinty are newsworthy – but Charest? Vewy Intewesting…