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Provinces Call Environment Minister Out on Climate Consultation Claim

While the office of Canada's Environment Minister is claiming it is consulting with the provinces on a long-term climate commitment, Quebec's Minister of Environment says he hasn't heard from anyone in more than three months. 

As part of preparations for a United Nation's climate leadership summit to be held later this year in Paris, the United States is set to submit its carbon emission commitment to the UN today.

And pressure is mounting against the Harper government as it tries to explain why it is failing to meet the same agreed deadline of March 31st to submit its own set of commitments.

The job of explaning this failure falls to Harper's Minister of Environment, Leona Aglukkaq. The Minister's office sent an e-mail to the Canadian Press earlier this week in response to their inquiries, stating that the Canadian government would be delayed in its submission to the UN because the office wanted to ensure that provinces were adequately consulted. 

“Canada wants to ensure we have a complete picture of what the provinces and territories plan before we submit,” a spokesman for Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in an e-mail Sunday. "Because this is a national contribution and the provinces have targets of their own, we are collecting information on how they intend to meet their targets.”

However, there appears to be another version of what the government of Canada is actually up to. 

In a CBC interview late yesterday, Quebec's Minister of the Environment David Heurtel said he met with Aglukkaq in early December of last year at the UN climate summit in Lima, Peru, and has since heard nothing from the minister or her office.

As the CBC reports:

"David Heurtel said he met with Aglukkaq at last year’s UN climate summit in Lima, Peru, the precursor to this year's meeting in Paris. Heurtel said he wrote to the minister seeking a dialogue on developing a national strategy on cutting greenhouse gases, but has heard nothing back."

In the same CBC article, Ontario's Minister of the Environment, Glen Murray, expressed his frustration with the consultation process so far by the feds:

"We need the federal government to play a leadership role in the federation. They’ve got to work with particularly Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and we need to see what they can put on the table to enable [greenhouse gas] reductions," Murray said. "They’ve got to be part of it. They can’t simply publish an inventory of what the provinces are doing and then making that Canada’s contribution. We need leadership here."

There is, of course, quite a bit of time between now and the climate summit to be held in Paris in December. However, the reason countries were asked to submit their plans by the end of March was to allow for a comprehensive "sunlight period." If countries submit too close to the Paris summit there will not be the necessary time for proper analysis of various country's proposals. 

So if you don't want to see things go well at the Paris climate conference, a delay tactic such as the one we are seeing from the Harper government could be quite effective.  

And while the Harper government has gotten away in the past with throwing monkey wrenches in climate talks, it appears this time around that the leadership at the provincial level might not let them get away with it.

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