Monday, December 04, 2006

A win for the environment?

There are a lot of ways to interpret the result of Canada’s Liberal party leadership vote this weekend. The choice of former Environment Minister Stephane Dion, whose dog is actually named Kyoto, for leader will be considered by many a victory for the environment. To be more precise, it will be considered a recognition on the part of Liberal delegates that “environmental” issues (you know I hate that term), especially climate change, should be central to the party platform and will be prominent in voter’s minds come the next election.

No doubt, it is ironic that Dion is seen as the champion of climate change and the environment, given that his government failed to implement an effective Kyoto plan and allowed greenhouse gas emissions to rise. As the Globe and Mail reports, this is not lost on the opposition parties:

Minutes after his victory, opposition politicians tried to tag Mr. Dion for being part of the Liberal Party during the sponsorship scandal and for wrapping himself in green despite the fact that greenhouse-gas emissions rose under his watch.

My guess is that tactic will not work. Few truly blame Dion for the Liberal party's past failure on climate change. Dion is well regarded, in Canada and even moreso around the world, for trying to promote the need for national and international action on climate change (despite opposition within Canada and within his own party) and for his strong role as chairperson of the UN climate meetings in Montreal last fall. His victory will be rightly seen by the international community as evidence that Canada is still serious about addressing emissions, despite the weak policy forwarded by the current government.

4 comments:

tim said...

Here is one overwhelming reason not to allow professors to be leaders of the countries:
http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1165406828917&call_pageid=968256290204&col=968350116795
I rest my case.
Maybe Dion should run on cutting subsidies to Bombardier, automakers.

Simon Donner said...

Tim,

Your case being that the column was ridiculous and the author, a retired MP and professor, should not be leading a country? Sure, I'll grant you that.

But one retired professor writes that we need non-democratic governance to address climate change, and that means anyone who has been a professor is disqualified from being a politician? Who is the one guilty of hyperbole here?

tim said...

Why anyone who has been a professor should be disqualified to be a politician? Well, first of all my thesis is not disqualification from a political career, but in my modest opinion is a disqualification from being a leader of the country.
First, for a professor loyalty is with idea, not a country. To be the leader of any country, a person should have a loyalty to the country. In case of Canadian Liberals – having declared loyalties to 2 countries does not disqualify.
Second, a professor by definition and training is an expert in very narrow field. A professor considers his field the most important thing to a human kind. Therefore, a professor is a defender of his field of specialty. A leader is a person who has to consider opinions of many experts, population of his county, and other stake holders. A leader of the country considers his country most important in the world, he suppose to always act in the best interest of the country.
Third, a professor has preconceived idea about theoretical outcome, if (it always does) the outcome of action is different, a professor does not adequately remedy situation.

Well, a good fun eh?

Simon Donner said...

True, the leader should be loyal to the country. Whether that was the case with all of the liberal candidates is a fair and reasonable question. Your second and third points does depends on the person. Anyone who runs for the leadership, professor or not, had a specialty at some point in their career. Whether they can step out of that as much to do with their personality than their profession. You'd hope that professors are fans of the scientific method, prepared to embrace the null hypothesis if the experiment fails to produce evidence supporting the hypothesis. That's not a bad model for governance (although one the current US leadership seems loathe to learn!)