September 23rd 1968  (Age 53)

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Random Thots is brought to you by Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist at the Hamilton Spectator, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Website:

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Jean Chretien and Global Warming

Look who's strutting around and putting down successors and criticizing governments now debating and putting together new agreements on Climate Change and Global Warming... Jean Chretien. The former Prime Minister conveys how proud he is to call his signing on to the Kyoto Protocol as a defining chapter of his Legacy despite the lack of action which followed. It's all in this article:

TORONTO - What was intended as a feel-good gathering of prominent Liberals celebrating the legacy of one of their most illustrious leaders took a divisive turn Tuesday as Jean Chretien again took aim at his successor Paul Martin's track record as prime minister, this time for failing to meet Canada's obligations to stop climate change.

The duelling former prime ministers, whose bitter leadership rift seems to have spilled over into their retirement years, were among the Liberal heavyweights headlining the conference lauding Lester B. Pearson's contributions to global peace, which earned him a Nobel Peace Prize 50 years ago.

Chretien's speech to the conference, hosted by Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae, included harsh words for the Conservatives' stance on the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"I am not very pleased today to read what people are saying about Canada in Bali at this moment about the environment," he told the conference.

"I think it is an urgent problem and we should have been at the forefront. When we signed Kyoto, we knew very well when I was there what we were doing, and it should have been implemented. But now we will not meet the target because we lost four years."

But outside the hall, Chretien was quick to point the finger at Martin's government for dropping the ball on Kyoto after he left office.

"I don't know what happened, I was not there," he said. "I know that I was negotiating with the oil industry, and the oil industry pulled back from the table."

When asked why it took so long for Canada to get somewhere on Kyoto, Chretien replied, "Sometimes, when you lose four years, you lose four years. There's nothing I can do about it." But Chretien said he doesn't blame current Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, who was environment minister under Martin, for the failure to meet Canada's obligations under Kyoto, an international treaty that Chretien's government signed 10 years ago.

Dion had to cancel his scheduled appearance at the conference to attend an international climate change summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Martin, who delivered his speech two hours after Chretien left the building, defended his record on climate change, saying his government's policy was regarded as "the most comprehensive attack on climate change that we've ever seen in Canada."

Ten years ago papers were hammering Jean Chretien for having contributed nothing to help solve environmental issues. Here's an example:

Global warming: action or inertia?
Hamilton Spectator Editorial
October, 02 1997

Bill Clinton is demonstrating environmental leadership as he tries to rally American public opinion behind a global treaty cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The American president's willingness to put his prestige on the line stands in contrast to the political inertia shown by the Chretien government on the problem so far. If the Liberals are to achieve their stated goals in reducing the pollutants that are believed to produce artificial global warming, they must give the problem a much higher profile.

Clinton can't be accused of sleepwalking on the difficult, but urgent, greenhouse gas issue. He raised the stakes yesterday by gathering 100 weather forecasters on the White House lawn in support of stronger action to reduce the buildup of fumes and smoke in the Earth's fragile natural environment. Cynics dismissed the event as a public relations gimmick. But Clinton deserves marks for taking a stand that will almost certainly involve some lifestyle changes for American consumers and economic adjustment.

The president faces stiff opposition from powerful politicians, industrialists and union leaders, who are reluctant to act even though the U.S. is a major polluter. America lags behind other countries in pledging itself to targets for carbon dioxide and other pollutants. The U.S. Senate has said it will reject specific greenhouse gas cuts unless they're matched by targets for developing countries. The U.S. can do much better than that. So can Canada, which has the second-highest per capita greenhouse emission rate among industrialized countries.

The Chretien government should be front and centre with a strategy in advance of international negotiations on a treaty in Japan in December. Instead, it's making no visible attempt to focus attention on the problem, and how to implement realistic, achievable and cost-effective solutions. The government has relied on a voluntary emissions reduction program that hasn't done the job.

The outlook isn't likely to improve if the debate, such as it is, is dominated by the likes of Alberta Premier Ralph Klein. He maintains that binding emission reduction targets will penalize his province unfairly. Klein appears to oppose even modest reductions. He should be more open to compromise. A failure by all industrial nations to take effective action now runs the major risk of precipitating an future environmental crisis that would require drastic economic and lifestyle changes. Critics of controls cite potential job losses in moving to a more sustainable economy, but they often overlook the potential employment from improving energy efficiency in offices and homes; developing super-efficient, environmentally-friendly cars and trucks; and investing in renewable energy projects.

It's time for the Chretien government to follow Clinton's lead and come out of the closet with a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Few problems are as pressing as the need to better protect the planet from choking in man-made gases.

Chretien was in his fifth year of office as Prime Minister by time the above editorial was written. It was my first year as a cartoonist when I drew the (rather crude)cartoon below for the October 2, 1997 edition of the paper, for which I chose to draw on the environment, an issue that Chretien was completely unconcerned with at the time:

Posted at 11:13 pm by Graeme_MacKay


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