Montreal protest denounces Canada's Kyoto stance

More than 200 people, including former Environment Minister Stéphane Dion, gathered in downtown Montreal Saturday to decry the Canadian government's position on the Kyoto Protocol.
Former Liberal leader Stephane Dion and his dog, Kyoto, were amoung those gathered in Montreal Saturday. (Alison Northcott/CBC)

More than 200 people gathered in downtown Montreal Saturday to denounce Canada’s position on the Kyoto Protocol.

The Canadian government has refused to join the second phase of the current climate change treaty, which expires in 2012.

""We want to avoid another Kyoto-like pact at all costs," Environment Minister Peter Kent said in a statement from the UN climate change conference in South Africa.

 "Kyoto was not effective and was not good for Canada. The previous government should not have ratified it."

In Montreal, demonstrators said they were disappointed with the government’s stance and worried about the implications.

Gwendolyn Etheve said the Kyoto Protocol is an important tool to protect the environment for the next generation.

"I'm here because I'm worried of the future of my children," she said.

Canada and the US want a new agreement that would see emerging economies like China and India commit to emissions targets. Currently, only industrial countries have legally binding emission targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

On Sunday, the 194-party conference in South Africa agreed to start negotiations on a new accord that would put all countries under the same legal regime enforcing commitments to control greenhouse gases. It would take effect by 2020 at the latest.

Former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion, who was Environment Minister when Canada extended its Kyoto commitment in 2005, said the government is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to environmental benchmarks.

 He attended the Montreal demonstration accompanied by his appropriately named dog, Kyoto.

"Canada is not in a situation to convince the other countries to do more, because we are doing so little in our own country," he said.

with files from Canadian Press