Move over Santa Claus and Superman, Prime Minster Harper is coming to reclaim the land you have been squatting on all these decades, nay centuries. It is, after all part of the Great White North and it plays well to the domestic audience – reassertion of dominance over the land of ice and snow, home of the Inuit, last great frontier. In actuality it should be called land of the melting ice, land of the last hidden riches and treasures.
Canada is busy sending armed forces and patrol ships up to the Arctic to make our presence felt. We are working hand in hand with Americans to map the seabed in order to bolster our claims of ownership. Inuit symbols are almost synonymous with the coming Winter Olympics. In short, we are celebrating and claiming all that is Arctic. It is ironic that at the precise moment when Prime Minister Harper is hell bent on flexing his clearly non-steroid assisted muscles in some chest-thumping display of Neanderthal ownership over this largely uninhabited land, it is precisely when the very survival of this land is most threatened by Mr. Harper’s policies. Is it ironic or intentional? Does Mr. Harper dismiss the science of climate change outwardly because inwardly he covets that very change and the contingent benefits he perceives, ie. energy? For me visions of Uriah Heep’s grasping fingers intertwine with Harper’s great patriotic press conferences on the subject of Arctic sovereignty.
The more dismal side of this coin lies not in the embarrassment that we should be feeling as Canadians when so many other countries walked out of the recent climate change conference in disgust due to Canada’s stated policy that Kyoto is fit for no more than the trash can, but rather in the fact that Harper’s popularity coincidentally seems to be soaring here at home. Is the word Canadian becoming synonymous with ostrich? Does our Prime Minister flap his gums and subsequently we stick our heads further in the sands of ignorance? When the polar bears, walruses and seals have almost died out will Canadians event lament their passing or will they be blinded by the dollar signs our current government dangles in their eyes emanating from future pay-off of potential oil discovery in the north and current earnings of the dirty tar sands?
It used to be that Mr Harper’s resistance to taking climate change science seriously came off as a puerile tit for tat policy. His resistance to respecting the obligations Canada had accepted in signing the Kyoto Accord was couched in the language of the school yard; if the United States and China aren’t doing anything then why should we? But the United States and China are doing things, big things and it is putting Canada to shame. David Suzuki echoes my sentiments exactly when he says that Harper’s failure to acknowledge that climate change is a serious issue, ” is so humiliating to me as a Canadian, because I have always been very proud of Canada as a country that took international obligations seriously.” China and America are leaving Canada in the dust- and that will be more than figurative if we don’t reverse the trend of the melting polar cap.
It’s easy enough to pass the buck, to blame the Harper government but I blame the people of this country who more and more are losing sight of what we are all about. The people keep electing this government and yet, unfortunately, it will be the world and, more specifically, the Great White North that will have to live – or die – with its CO2 emitting consequences, not just the Canadian electorate. A friend of mine once told my grandmother, when she was visiting from England and complained about ice cubes in her gin and tonic, that “ice is what made this country great”. We all laughed at the time but in retrospect no truer words could be spoken. It’s time we recognized it and if we are unable to force Harper to the same conclusion then it is incumbent on us to replace his government with one that does demonstrate that appreciation. It has to be done immediately before polar bears and igloos are a distant memory. As Stephen Colbert said, “Due to global warming Iceland will soon be changing its name to Landland”.