4 may 2011

[a 4C exclusive report]

Canada's Harper wins parliament majority with 40% of votes, climate loses

After two terms of minority rule by the Conservative Party, the Canadian election of May 2 produced a safe majority for Conservative Party PM Stephen Harper, despite a 60% vote for opposition parties.

Harper’s Party won 167 out of 308 seats with only 40% of the votes, because of Canada’s first past the post constituency system. The Liberals, previously the main opposition party, were reduced to less than 20% of the vote (their representation dropped from 77 to 34), while the Social Democratic NDP dramatically increased its share of the vote to over 30% and its number of seats from 37 to 102. The Bloc Quebecois was reduced significantly to 6%, losing 45 of their 49 seats, primarily to the NDP, while the Green Party, with nearly 4% of the vote, won a seat in Parliament for the first time.

This is bad news for the climate. Harper, though no longer the climate skeptic he once was, has called the Kyoto protocol a “Socialist scheme” to transfer wealth to poor countries. He is a strong supporter of energy company plans to extract oil from Alberta’s tar sands and has been attacked by environmentalists for cutting spending on clean energy programs and setting Canada’s CO2 reduction targets at the minimal U.S. level (17% below 2005 levels), but without a detailed plan. John Bennett, executive director of Sierra Club Canada, called Harper’s victory “a disaster [which] ensures guaranteed inaction on climate change for the next four years.”

After Saudi Arabia, Canada holds the second largest oil reserves in the world. Harper’s oil strategy is to build a $5.5 billion pipeline to carry oil sands to the Canadian west coast for sale and transportation to the Chinese. The U.S. is considering its own $7 billion pipeline to double the amount of imported Canadian crude.

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