Quebec premier Jean Charest has emerged as a North American leader on climate change. He is one of only a handful of elected politicians who are speaking out strongly and eloquently about the reality of climate change. Charest has nearly 3 decades of experience in Canadian politics, serving as a Member of Parliament from 1983 to 1998, holding such portfolios as Minister of the Environment and Deputy Prime Minister before becoming leader of the Quebec Liberal Party in 1998. He has been premier of the province since 2003.
While in Copenhagen in December, Charest strongly denounced Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s stance on climate change. As reported in the Canadian Press on December 22, 2009, Charest tore a strip off of the federal government’s environmental performance.
In 25 years in politics, Charest says, he’s never seen a federal government rely so heavily on the White House before taking a position on an issue, with Ottawa now saying it will model its climate policy on Washington’s.
Charest says the Harper government has displayed hostility toward environmentalists.
Charest was referring to the incident in Copenhagen when Harper press secretary Dimitri Soudas accused Canadian environmentalist Steven Guilbeault – on camera – of being behind a spoof designed to embarrass the Canadian government . The American pranksters The Yes Men later took responsibility for the stunt.
“You saw it like I did,” Charest told the Quebec television network [TVA].
“His press secretary attacking an environmentalist – on the basis of false information.”