Al Gore brought his dog and pony show to the University of British Columbia on Thursday evening, speaking to a packed crowd of the faithful at the Chan Centre. His Keynote presentation (he is on the Board of Apple and obviously eschews Microsoft’s PowerPoint) was filled with images, graphs, and data on the looming crisis that is global warming. At times passionate, the infamous policy wonk presented the issue with the scholarship befitting a University Professor. On this topic the former Vice President has serious street cred: he was among the first politicians in the world to have recognized its importance, co-organizing the first hearings on the topic by the US Congress in 1979.
Nearing the end of his speech, Gore showed a list of the 163 countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, bemoaning the fact that the United States and Australia have not signed. And then he stopped. He slowly walked forward on the stage and in a sonorous voice, pointed out that the Kyoto Accord is in trouble in Canada. The former Vice President of the United States of America unequivocally stated that Canada is the most respected country in the world, reminding us that Canada has participated in every peacekeeping mission that the United Nations has mounted since the United Nations was founded. He directly challenged the audience saying, “You are not going to let Canada exit Kyoto, are you?”
It was a highly emotional moment, one that drove home the fact that at this delicate time in human history the world is watching Canada very carefully. How we handle the debate over Kyoto will have a major impact on the future of the planet. It would be a disaster of unimaginable proportions were Canada’s good name to be besmirched by leaving the Kyoto Protocol. People around the world would rightly shake their heads, and, with a disheartening change in emphasis, wistfully intone the words “Oh, Canada”.