Climate change issue splits provinces
By Canwest News Service/canada.com
July 16, 2008, Quebec City, Que. - The subject of how to deal with climate change is not likely to be on the agenda this week, as provincial and territorial leaders gather in Quebec City for the Council of the Federation. Manitoba and British Columbia are online with Quebec and Ontario on a cap-and-trade system but Alberta and Saskatchewan are opposed to the plan.
July 16, 2008, Quebec City, Que. – With Western and Central Canadian provinces at odds over how to tackle climate change, there could be more bones of contention than consensus when Canada's premiers meet in Quebec City today.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest – the host and chairperson of this meeting – said it is no secret it will be impossible to secure a national agreement on fighting climate change at the three-day conference. "We've known that for a long time and it won't change at the meeting," he said yesterday.
Instead, the Council of the Federation, which includes provincial and territorial leaders, will focus on goals the jurisdictions have in common, like energy efficiency and green technologies, Charest said.
The cap-and-trade system proposed by Quebec and Ontario is a worldwide trend, Charest said, and he suggested Canada shouldn't miss the boat. Last month, Quebec and Ontario pledged to create an interprovincial greenhouse cap-and-trade emissions reduction program by 2010, despite objections from Alberta and the federal government.
"If we want others to move on this issue, we have a responsibility to show leadership," Charest said. "We (in Quebec) think cap-and-trade is the way to go, and other provinces like Ontario and Manitoba think it's the way to go."
A growing number of premiers – including British Columbia's Gordon Campbell and Manitoba's Gary Doer – are pushing for such a system, which acts as an incentive for companies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
Doer, who held a joint news conference with Charest in Quebec City, noted that four of the five biggest provinces agree on the cap-and-trade system.
"When you have an agreement you go forward, and if somebody wants to stay behind, they stay behind, but they'll have to catch up with the United States as this becomes a reality in North America," Doer said, an allusion to the fact both major party candidates in the November presidential election are in favour of a cap-and-trade system.
Premiers Brad Wall of Saskatchewan and Ed Stelmach of Alberta are fiercely opposed to a national trading system to cut greenhouse gas emissions, saying it will do little to reduce emissions.
The Council of the Federation will also tackle the issues of labour mobility and interprovincial trade, Charest said.