McKenna 'done' with 'ridiculous' Tory language on environment

McKenna ‘done’ with ‘ridiculous’ Tory language on environment

As the Liberal government pushes to include environmental protection in the free-trade agreement, the Opposition called such a move “virtue signalling.”

Canada's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna takes part in a news conference during the First Ministersí meeting in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie - RTSVGP4

Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna takes part in a news conference during the First Ministersí meeting in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie – RTSVGP4

OTTAWA — Canada’s push to get climate change action included in a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement is turning into a heated domestic dispute just as it makes its debut at the official negotiating table.

The NAFTA schedule obtained by The Canadian Press showed the environment was on the schedule for seven hours of NAFTA talks in Mexico City Monday, and another seven hours on Tuesday.

It could be one of the more contentious chapters, as significant differences of opinion about the environment exist between the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Those differences largely exist domestically as well and were being played out in social media over the Labour Day weekend.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna launched an angry missive at Conservative Foreign Affairs critic Erin O’Toole on Sunday, for suggesting the environment was a mere “trinket” better left to the sidelines in order to protect Canada’s economic well-being.

She was responding to comments O’Toole made to The Canadian Press in which he accused the government’s push for environmental protections, Indigenous rights and gender equality as “virtue signalling” as part of the image-building machinery around Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“And so done with ridiculous language from #CPC like ‘virtue signalling,'” McKenna tweeted. “We will continue to stand up for Canadian values at home & abroad.”

She wrote a lengthy response on Facebook noting it was his party under then-prime minister Brian Mulroney that first included the environment in a Canadian trade deal with NAFTA’s parallel environment agreement.

“We are currently witnessing the largest forest fire in British Columbia’s history, the Atlantic Ocean recording record temperatures, and the second flood of the century in 12 months in Windsor,” McKenna wrote. “And the conservatives are still saying that the environment and the economy can be separated! Climate change is real and environmental protection is essential. It is time for the conservatives to understand the message.”

READ MORE: NAFTA talks move to Mexico amidst combative national mood

A spokeswoman for Trudeau said McKenna’s Facebook post was the official government response to O’Toole.

At the NAFTA table, Canada and the U.S. both want the environment agreement to be pulled into the main NAFTA papers rather than existing as a side deal. They also both want provisions to prevent NAFTA countries from loosening environmental restrictions as a way to attract investment.

Where they differ however is on climate change. While the U.S. stated one of its NAFTA goals was to include a requirement for countries to live up to their obligations under multilateral agreements, the U.S. is in the process of withdrawing from the biggest of those agreements on climate change—the Paris accord.

Trump has previously referred to climate change as a “hoax” and has started undoing policies of the former administration of Barack Obama, such as fossil fuel production restrictions, which he says have hurt the U.S. economy.

Canada would like a new NAFTA to specifically reference climate change and prioritize measures to help combat it.

University of Lethbridge politics professor Chris Kukucha thinks that hill will prove too steep for Canada to climb and will have to be abandoned.

“They will try, they’ll bring it up because that’s the government’s mandate,” he said. “At the end of the day I think the people sitting at the table know that’s a non-starter, it’s not going to be there,” he said. “Not with that administration in the United States.”

Kukucha said the domestic political battles over the environment are unlikely to have any impact at the negotiating table, although he said the U.S. could use it as a wedge issue against Canada on areas Canada doesn’t want to give up such as supply management.

That the environment is a Canadian priority for NAFTA was underscored last week when McKenna created a NAFTA advisory council on the environment made up of two former premiers, a former provincial finance minister and representatives from environment and industry associations.


McKenna ‘done’ with ‘ridiculous’ Tory language on environment

  1. It isn’t virtue signalling until McKenna hires an expensive photographer at taxpayers’ expense to take pictures of her negotiating on the environment on NAFTA with the United States and Mexico.

  2. ‘Virtue signalling’……..more meaningless imported tea-party jargon.

    As I said….our govt didn’t ask for Con ‘help’. .

    • Yeah but …. the Cons are trying to limit the damage they will inherit after the next election. These liberals are floundering, they have not passed any major pieces of legislation except to push for legal pot. Pathetic.

      • It’ll be another 2 terms and another new leader before the Cons even have a chance or being elected

        And only if Justin accidentally blows up NB

  3. The point of trade agreements is to free-up the cost of moving goods across borders from the burden of tariff. This means that, as long as the transportation costs do not become to significant, production will occur wherever the operating costs are less. Therefore increase profit. Given that factors in operating costs include wages, workplace safety requirements and other employment regulations, product quality control is it a far stretch to request production doesn’t also destroy the environment – locally or globally?

    If you want to complete the environmental ‘harm’ picture the carbon footprint of transporting goods should also be in the equation.

  4. Is there anything this woman actually knows anything about, beyond being ignorant and rude? Would someone please teach her the difference between carbon and carbon dioxide and explain which one is actually being taxed? Calling CO2 carbon is akin to calling water, oxygen!
    Also, while someone is trying to educate this scientifically illiterate Liberal, perhaps they could also explain why CO2, an invisible, odorless, tasteless trace gas making up only 0.04 percent of our atmosphere is in no way a pollutant at anything near current levels.

    • The preceding is what is meant by ‘ridiculous Tory language.

  5. She is way over the top on this stuff and will stop the NAFTA renegotiations getting underway or resolved. Is the climate changing? One would be a fool to not believe this since it has and will change for millions of years in the past and millions of years in the future. To this 97% of scientists polled agree. However, when asked if man has much impact, there are over 37,000 scientists who answered “no, or very limited”. Other planets are showing sign of warming as well. Last I heard there are many SUV’s running around on Jupiter. The 5 ice ages the Earth have experienced long before man discovered fire were all do to changing activity on the sun and the relative tilt of the Earth’s axis. That’s happening again and we’d be fools to believe we can change that.

  6. McKenna, you are obviously a Liberal, and people should ask how much will this cost, they won’t answer because the price is so ridiculous and outlandish. Remember to vote all Liberals out before Canada is bankrupt.