Vive Le Canada

PM Calls Off European Summit
Date: Saturday, November 04 2006
Topic:


Harper has to stay close to the HOC while it's in session in case one of those rogue MPs says something damaging in his absence. I'm just glad he's staying out of the foreign limelight and stays our dirty little secret for as long as it takes to oust him. And, Harper being as insular as he is, may not realize that Latvia and Helsinki are so geographically close? 4Canada

JOHN IBBITSON

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — Stephen Harper has surprised and annoyed European Union leaders by cancelling a planned Canada-EU summit, where he was going to be criticized for abandoning this country's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

Mr. Harper told Finnish Prime Minister Maati Vanhanen yesterday by telephone that he would not be able to attend the summit scheduled for Nov. 27.

The Prime Minister cited the need to remain in Canada as much as possible while the House of Commons is sitting, because the Conservatives enjoy only a minority government.

However, Mr. Harper still plans to travel to Hanoi later this month to attend a meeting of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) leaders. He will also be in Riga, Latvia, at the end of the month for meetings with the heads of NATO.

It was the decision to attend the NATO meeting while cancelling the EU summit that has European officials miffed, because the Prime Minister is going to be in the neighbourhood anyway.

The EU summit, in Helsinki and Tampere, Finland, occurs only two days before the NATO meetings, and Finland is a short flight from Latvia.

“The undertone is pretty bitter,” stated one European official who asked not to be identified.

There is widespread belief that Canada cancelled the meeting because EU officials announced that the question of Kyoto Protocol targets would be placed on the agenda.

European leaders are upset with the Conservative government's proposed Clean Air Act, which abandons Canada's pledge under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

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[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on November 6, 2006]

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