By Kevin Donovan
The Conservative government has taken the easy route and produced an environmental plan that is a “complete and total fraud” on the Canadian public, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore told a Toronto audience yesterday.
“(Harper) is under a lot of pressure and he has chosen the easy wrong over the hard right,” Gore thundered to applause from the packed crowd.
Critics of the Harper government’s plan say that while it talks the talk – the overall theme is reducing greenhouse gas emissions – it is vague and fails to spell out the specific regulations that will be needed to effect change. Gore said the plan was “designed to mislead the Canadian people.”
The backdrop for Gore’s remarks was the Toronto Green Living Show, the first “green consumer show” hosted by the city. Two hundred exhibitors jammed the Direct Energy Centre at the exhibition grounds, showing everything from solar panels for houses to hybrid fuel vehicles to home roasting of organically grown coffee.
In a convention room nearby, Gore made the latest stop of his global warming road show, presenting a compelling, live version of his now famous slide presentation, “An Inconvenient Truth.” This week he’s given the talk eight times, including once in Regina and once in Calgary, in the province that contains the oil-rich tar sands, a carbon energy source he says poses an extremely serious threat to the environment.
In Toronto, David Suzuki was in the audience, fresh from a confrontation with Tory Environment minister John Baird, whom he accused Friday of bringing in a disappointing plan.
Baird has said his plan, which he says will slash greenhouse gases 20 per cent below current levels by 2020, is the toughest in the world over the next 13 years.
Also in the audience to hear Gore yesterday was Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. Gore said he and the premier would meet privately later in the day. Gore said he hoped the Liberal premier could take a leadership stand he has not seen from the Conservative Prime Minister.
Before Gore put up his first slide he told the audience he wanted to make a comment and he wanted to make sure he did it before the media had left. Gore than lashed out at the federal conservatives for focusing on intensity of emissions rather than tough, overall reductions in the absolute amounts of pollution.
He went on to say that Canada is a country known for moral leadership and “standing up for what is right in the world.” Baird released a statement later in the day yesterday in which he tried to deflect Gore’s criticisms.
“The fact is our plan is vastly tougher than any measures introduced by the administration of which the former vice-president was a member,” Baird said in the statement.
Baird’s statement also offered an invitation for Gore to discuss climate change and the Conservatives’ environmental policies with him.
With files from Catherine Porter and Canadian Press