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NEWS: Harper says no to G8 environment ministers summit

The Council of Canadians publicly commented on the G8 finance ministers summit in Iqaluit, and participated in demonstrations against the G8 foreign ministers meeting in Gatineau and the recent G8 international development ministers summit in Halifax.

In advance of our major intervention at the G8 and G20 summits in the Toronto-area this June we also planned to organize around the G8 environment ministers summit.

But Embassy Magazine reports today that, “The Conservative government’s decision not to host an environment ministers’ meeting ahead of the G8 summit in June has infuriated critics and environmental groups, who say Canada broke with tradition and missed a good opportunity to show a commitment to battle climate change.”

“As this year’s G8 president, the Canadian government organized a G8 finance ministers’ meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut, in February, a foreign affairs ministers’ meeting in Gatineau, Quebec, at the end of March, and a gathering of development ministers’ in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the end of April.  A meeting of the G8 environment ministers is usually also on the agenda.”

“Canada has faced several rounds of criticism about its environmental policies, both nationally and internationally, especially about its tar sands.”

The government’s line is that,
“Canada chose its G8 priorities in consultation with the other G8 partners, and the focus will be on maternal and child health, said an Environment Canada spokesperson.”

But two things on this:

1- The Council of Canadians recently made the argument in the Halifax Chronicle Herald that, “If Stephen Harper is serious about maternal health and child health, he needs to recognize that healthy mothers come from healthy communities. And healthy communities require strong public services and a clean environment.” And a clean environment means access to clean water. And as we’ve repeatedly said – you can’t have water justice without climate justice. More on this at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3442.

2- The Canadian Press reported in January that, “Environment Minister Jim Prentice says he’s feeling international pressure to put climate change high on the agenda at the G20 and G8 summits this summer. And while he’s not exactly a champion of the idea quite yet, he’s not saying No either.” Is this news today Prentice now saying no? More on this at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2712.

And while the Council of Canadians criticizes the G8 and G20 bodies as fundamentally undemocratic (and argues that the better place for these discussions is at the United Nations, also now referred to as the G-192), the Harper government’s refusal to hold this summit is another clear indication of its complete abandonment of the environment.

The Embassy article is at http://www.embassymag.ca/page/view/g8-05-05-2010.