Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Confronted with what some believe is a house on fire, Canadian Members of Parliament retire to the shadows and whisper to each other in secret.
There’s a disturbing article in the weekend edition of Canada’s National Post. It’s titled Federal politicians use non-partisan climate group to meet in ‘safe space’ behind closed doors.
Apparently, our elected Members of Parliament (MPs) are on a par with sex abuse victims. They need a “safe space” to talk about what’s supposed to be the planet’s most pressing problem. Confronted with what some believe is a house on fire, they retire to the shadows and whisper to each other in secret.
The article quotes Green Party Leader Elizabeth May:
You just don’t want people to be feeling that it’s an area of political risk to participate in the climate caucus. We want it to be a trusting, safe space, in which any member of Parliament from any party can come and ask any question or make any comment and it’s all off the record and all in shared confidence.
I am not opposed to MPs of all political stripes getting together to talk about important issues. The world needs respectful dialogue between people with diverse points-of-view.
But something else appears to be going on here. These sound like meetings of climate activists. One of the members of this secret cabal, the environment critic for Canada’s left-wing New Democratic Party, gets quoted in the article talking about
climate change deniers…who think nothing of the risk to our planet and the burden that their willful blindness will leave to future generations.
It’s seems unlikely that a gathering at which she’s present – perhaps even serving as chair – is going to be conducive to thoughtful reflection.
In my view, climate change is the latest in a long list of eco-apocalypses that drama queen scientists have frightened us with. If it isn’t global cooling, it’s acid rain. If it isn’t acid rain, it’s the disappearing ozone layer. If it isn’t the ozone layer, it’s global warming.
All of these have been used by environmentalists to argue that we’re sinners against the planet and that Gaia is going to punish us if we don’t repent.
No matter what the problem happens to be, their solution is always the same. We must don sackcloth and ashes. We must condemn consumer society and stop hopping on planes. We must turn down the heat and the air conditioning and eat less meat.
If these meetings are happening behind closed doors so that the few Tories who think their own party’s policies aren’t aggressive enough can strategize with like-minded others, that’s a serious problem.
Canadians pay these people’s salaries. We therefore have a right to know what is being said at these meetings. We have a right to know whether diverse perspectives being are presented.
The news article tells us about
John Stone, one of three Nobel prize-winning Canadian scientists who delivered presentations to the MPs at their last meeting in mid-April…
Except that Stone is not a Nobel laureate. He is a career bureaucrat who, according to his bio, “joined the Public Service of Canada” in 1972.
Yes, he is the holder of science degrees. But it you head over to NobelPrize.org and type his name into the search box at the top right of the screen you will find no John Stone among the results.
Stone is associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – at the administrative rather than the scientific level. Again, quoting his bio:
In 1997 he was appointed to the Bureau of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), specifically as Vice-Chair of Working Group I, and has since been re-appointed, now as a Vice-Chair of Working Group II.
Hello, newspaper journalists. It really is time you did some basic fact-checking. A statement issued by the IPCC makes matters quite clear:
it is incorrect to refer to any IPCC official, or scientist who worked on IPCC reports, as a Nobel laureate or Nobel Prize winner.
Stone is a chemist by training. But he has not been awarded a Nobel in chemistry. Or in physics. Or in medicine, economics, or literature. It is therefore utterly and outrageously wrong for a reporter to describe him as a Nobel-winning scientist.
If the MPs attending these meetings are being told that they should listen to what this career bureaucrat thinks because he’s a Nobel prize winner, they are being profoundly misled.
Which is exactly why there should be a public record of what is being said and done at these meetings.
UPDATE, May 1, 2013: I am advised by a reader that, on April 28th, the National Post edited the above story. The following was appended to the bottom:
Editor’s note: This article originally referred to John Stone as a “Nobel Prize-winning scientist.” Stone was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change team which won the 2007 Nobel Prize, but did not win the prize individually.