Last month the Arctic Council met in Iqaluit.
Our representative, Leona Aglukkaq, federal Minister of the Environment and outgoing chair of the council, had a strong message for Russia about its intervention in the Ukraine.
It was the wrong message, at the wrong time, by the wrong person—especially from the first ever Inuit woman cabinet minister.
Thanks to the media, when people around the world picture the Arctic they see collapsing icebergs, rising oceans, stranded polar bears, the melting permafrost and the release of huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere. They expect Canada to respond to challenges in our own Arctic.
I’ve worked in almost every Nunavut community. They depend upon hunting and fishing. They sit on the edge of the ocean, just up from the beach behind their boats. With rising seas many of those communities will disappear. One would have expected at least a passing reference to climate change – especially from Ms. Aglukkaq.
So why was this the wrong message? Because, with an upcoming federal election, the right message, was Russia’s intervention in the Ukraine. Environment and climate change are not big with much of the conservative base. But tough-guy talk on Russia certainly is.
Last year Ms. Aglukkaq told the United Nations that Canada is a world leader in clean energy. Last week, to howls from the opposition in the House, she said, “No previous federal budget has done more for the environment than the one delivered this week by the Conservative Government.” Our British friends would call those statements “porkies.”
Fortunately the Chair of the Arctic Council has passed to the U.S. and to John Kerry. He declared climate change his highest priority.
As a Canadian I am embarrassed to see our carbon colonizing dictator sending his environment minister to the Arctic Council to cast an absentee ballot for the Canadian Arctic.