Quebec Conservative MP Maxime Bernier went public this week on climate change, lauding the federal government’s inaction on this issue and sharing his opinion on the science. Bernier has distinguished himself so far in his political career by getting demoted as Foreign Affairs Minister after dating a woman with ties to Quebec’s biker gangs, and compounding this poor judgement by leaving sensitive cabinet documents in her apartment. Bernier’s letter, published in the French language newspaper La Presse this week, can be read in English here or in French here. Here are some excerpts:
Every week that goes by confirms the wisdom of our government’s modest position…There is, in fact, no scientific consensus. What’s certain is that it would be irresponsible to spend billions of dollars to impose unnecessarily stringent regulations to resolve a problem whose gravity we still are not certain about. The alarmism that often characterized this issue is no longer at stake. Canada is right to be cautious.
Bernier also felt qualified to comment on climate science, saying that the sun might be responsible for temperature changes and that the Earth might actually be cooling.
It is interesting to watch the Conservative government distance themselves from Bernier, when in fact Bernier is the first Conservative MP to publicly expose the ideology underlying the Harper Conservative’s climate change policy. The Conservative Government is careful to say the right things about climate science (for example, a recent letter from my Conservative MP Greg Rickford says, “We support an approach to climate change that achieves real environmental and economic benefits for all Canadians.”) But in reality, the Harper government’s targets are not science-based, they have introduced no legislation to back-up emissions reductions, and they have shown no support for renewable energy. Last year, the Harper Conservatives cut all funding to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, the main funding body for university research on climate in Canada. So while Environment Minister Prentice says that Bernier’s views on climate change are not those of the Canadian government, the government record says differently.
Meanwhile, Bernier might be well-advised to spend some time researching what is going on in his own backyard with regard to climate change. As reported this morning on CBC’s World Report, no sea ice has formed in the St. Lawrence Seaway this winter. According to Environment Canada, which describes the St. Lawrence as an “enormous ice-making machine”, between January and the end of February ice normally gradually builds up in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, eventually covering it completely (click here to view a map of the average ice cover in the Gulf at this time of year). However, although it is the end of February, no sea ice has yet formed. As one old-timer commented “I’m 69 years old and have never seen that before.” A scientist was quoted as saying “Over the last decade the ice hasn’t been as good as it has been in previous decades so that suggests a longer-term trend.” The government’s own scientists at Environment Canada report that Great Lakes region experienced a 0.7°C temperature increase between 1985 and 1991 (click here for more).
Mr. Bernier, wake up and sniff the emissions – your climate science judgement is even poorer than your judgement in women and in the protection of cabinet secrets.