The Harper government's scandalous carbon-price-paying past

Sweet memories Vancouver Olympics now soured

Mike De Souza finds that the Conservatives purchased carbon offsets to account for emissions related to the Vancouver Olympics.

The Harper government paid $226,450 to conserve trees in a British Columbia forest to prevent its activities at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics from contributing to global warming, say newly released internal memos obtained by Postmedia News. The three memos, prepared for Environment Minister Peter Kent, said the money was used to buy certified credits to compensate for about 16,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions generated from federal employee travel, security, the torch relay and other government activities at the Vancouver Olympics, which were hailed as the first carbon neutral games in history…

The total would be equivalent to paying a carbon tax worth about $13.55 per tonne of emissions. It does not include other credits that were donated and purchased by suppliers and sponsors to make the Vancouver event entirely carbon neutral.

But it gets worse. Not only did the Harper government pay for its emissions, it apparently did so with an official pronouncement of pride in having done so.

Today, Canada’s Environment Minister, the Honourable Jim Prentice, announced the Government of Canada’s commitment to offset federal greenhouse gas emissions for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

“Canada is proud to be the first host country in history to help offset the greenhouse gas emissions of its Olympic Games,” said Minister Prentice. “This commitment is one of many ways our Government is contributing to sustainable Games and meeting our global climate change responsibilities.”

Of course, the Olympics occurred in 2010, a year before the Conservatives started criticizing Liberal and NDP plans for cap-and-trade and two years before the Conservatives decided that to put a price on carbon was to wish great suffering upon Canadian families.

That said, the Prime Minister, presumably unaware until now of this price paid, will no doubt now wish to reconsider his generally fond assessment of the Vancouver Olympics. And it is probably a good thing that Jim Prentice quit in November 2010 for he would surely have to resign if he was in cabinet this morning.

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