This summer, alongside stories about the community fair and demolition derbies, the Ottawa Valley's Renfrew Mercury ran an advertorial “Report from Parliament” written by Conservative Member of Parliament Cheryl Gallant on the much heavier subject of climate change.
While most governments have accepted that climate change is an urgent issue to be taken seriously, it appears Gallant is taking a much different tack, making exaggerated claims and employing a divide and conquer rhetoric clearly designed to score a few cheap political points.
Gallant writes in her June 2015 “report” that, “alarmist claims about 'man-made' global warming have cost the Ontario government tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.”
Note the quotations Gallant uses on “man-made,” in an obvious bow to the global warming conspiracy theorists.
Gallant goes on to attribute Ontario's financial troubles to the “extremists” and “alarmists” who “cost the Ontario economy tens-of-thousands of jobs.”
On a bit of a roll, the MP for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke also claims that “livestock producers would be put out of business as these extremists believe we all should be plant-eaters only.” (Note to Gallant: I am thawing some nice ribeyes for the grill as I draft this article).
I assume those “extremists” and “alarmists” Gallant writes about would include the thousands of scientists around the world working everyday on further understanding the issue of climate change and the ways we can deal with it. And I would also assume that would include vocal leaders for carbon pricing from her own party, like the former leader of the Reform Party Preston Manning.
This use of political rhetoric is unhelpful at best and damaging and insulting at worst as we try to do our part as a nation to deal with what is clearly a serious global issue.
It's not the first time Gallant has made questionable comments regarding climate change. Case in point is this 2009 tweet where the MP proclaims that “the global warming gig is up.”
The issue of climate change, if dismissed and derided as Gallant would like, will cost Canada's economy much more dearly in the long run. It will particularly cost the rural farmers she tries to position herself as the champion of.
We are already seeing the signs of protracted drought and not just in far off places like sub-Saharan Africa, but much closer to home in places like California and the American Midwest. And while it could be argued that in the short term there could be some net economic benefits to farmers in the great white north who will evade the initial damaging effects of climate change, the long-term outlook is much more dismal.
Dismal, that is, if we don't take significant steps now to deal with the issue of too many greenhouse gases being pumped into the air by humans burning too much fossil fuel.
Over the last decade under the Harper administration, of which Gallant has been a part of for the duration, we have seen Canada's greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and we remain one of the world's largest per-capita emitters.
With a federal election this fall, there is a real chance that the Conservative party will not be in power come Oct. 20th.
If that ends up being the case, I wonder what folks like Gallant, who spent their time in office thinking of reasons not to take bold action on climate change, will say 30 years from now when their great grandkids sit on their laps and ask what they did to help deal with this greatest of global challenges?