Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government is once again investing all its energy in arguing against taking action on climate change.
The Tories commissioned a report - and then solicited a credible second opinion- on the likely effect of an emergency effort to meet Canada's Kyoto commitment. (It's an emergency because the previous Liberal administration did too little and the Tories have done nothing at all.) The reports, which appear to overlook the opportunity to buy carbon credits on the international market, suggests that such an effort would cripple the Canadian economy.
Tactically, this looks like a clever move on the Tories' part. The Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democrats recently overwhelming the Conservatives in committee and rewrote Harper's hopeless Clean Air Act to include a demand that Canada meet its Kyoto obligations. That gave environmentalists a momentary lift, but it also handed the Tories an opportunity to suggest that the other parties are being reckless and impractical. The charge is especially effective against the Liberals, who still have not apologized for their own poor performance on this file.
Now the Tories are trying to shift the argument - again - away from science and responsibility and toward a short-term economic debate that overlooks the gathering and compounding threat of climate change. This is, again, tactically clever, if incredibly cynical. But if the Tories prevail politically using such tactics, we all will lose.