If average Canadians took the time to understand what is in the Kyoto agreement on pollution control, not only would they agree that Canada should have nothing to do with it, they would track down the people who got us into it in the first place and have them come before a public enquiry on the subject.

Doyle%2C%20Denzil-120X185.jpgWe’ve seen Kyoto and it doesn’t work
From SCAN's Print Edition

Nobody knows for sure how it all happened, but according to Diane Francis of the National Post, it was done as a favour to Maurice Strong, a Liberal Party insider who wanted to look good to his friends in the United Nations. He organized a so-called Earth Summit on behalf of the UN and managed to get Canada’s unconditional support for its outcome, which happened to be the Kyoto Accord. It is unlikely that the Canadian contingent to the summit had any idea what they were signing. If they did, they certainly had no idea of how they could honour it.

The fiscal mismanagement of which they could be accused takes a number of forms, but the predominant one is related to the buying and selling of so-called emission credits. In simple terms, a polluting country can avoid time in the environmental penalty box by buying such credits from a non- polluting country.

If there is one country on the face of the earth that should be wary of such a policy, it is Canada. About twenty-five years ago, we introduced something called the Scientific Research Tax Credit (SRTC) program to help small high-tech companies finance their R&D activities. Such companies could make up their minds that they were going to spend a certain amount of money on R&D in a given year and then “sell” those expenditures to individuals and corporations in taxable situations. The result was an infusion of immediate cash into the coffers of the companies doing R&D. The exact amounts of the credits were the subject of intense negotiations that created more work for lawyers and accountants than they ever did for engineers ─ especially when one considers the effort that went into dismantling the program and prosecuting all the fraud artists it attracted. The court cases are probably still going on. (The program was eventually replaced by the current Scientific Research and Economic Development program that is working reasonably well.)

The early experience with the emission control program indicates there is something rotten in Kyoto and it has the potential of making the Canadian SRTC program look like a church picnic. To get to the source of the smell one only has to look at the situation that exists between Canada and Russia. Canada is actually buying emission credits from Russia! We have paid Russia over one billion dollars to date and if we are to honour the Kyoto agreement, we could actually spend between twenty and sixty billion dollars before we get our act together. That is a lot of money ─ more than enough to pay the interest on our national debt.

I have not been to Russia for about ten years, but if their environment is really cleaner than ours, they have sure been working like beavers on it since then.

It turns out that the reason why Canada is a buyer of Russian tax credits has to do with the way the international arithmetic is done. (Sounds like the SRTC program already). Russia built up a lot of credits shortly after the Kyoto baseline year of 1990 because it dismantled many of the old Soviet-era power and manufacturing plants that had fallen into a state of disrepair. Those plants were massive and very dirty and their dismantling just happened to coincide with the early years of Kyoto.

What Canadians should really be annoyed about at this time is the fact that the three opposition parties recently ganged up on the government to pass Bill C-288, which if adhered to would hold the government’s feet to the fire in honouring Kyoto to the letter. The prime minister did the right thing in telling them that he has no notion of obeying the resultant law that is now on the books. The law is the result of a bill put forward by Quebec MP Pablo Rodriguez. It is a name we should remember when it comes time for the Government of Canada to cut more cheques to Russia, or future ones to China and India – countries that are already in the process of outcompeting us internationally.

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