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Go green, council tells Tories

Andrew Raven
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Apr 26/06) - Yellowknife city councillors weighed into the national debate on global warming Monday.

Council voted 5-3 in favour of urging Ottawa to keep eco-friendly programs off the chopping block.

"It is absolutely essential to the future of our planet," said Coun. Mark Heyck to scattered applause of a half-dozen people at City Hall.

Heyck brought forward a resolution asking Ottawa to reconsider its cuts and re-affirm Canada's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.

The international agreement requires Canada to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. Those emissions - believed to be the leading cause of global warming - have risen 30 per cent since 1990, according to some studies.

Heyck said it was "irresponsible" of the Tories to slash the programs without a viable alternative.

But other councillors preferred the wait and see method.

Couns. Alan Woytuik and Doug Witty said the Tories could well have a better plan for dealing with global warming and called the council resolution premature.

They even questioned whether city council should be dealing with national and international issues like global warming.

"Here we go again - pretending to be federal MPs," said Woytuik.

Earlier this year, the Conservative government slashed several programs designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the much publicized One-Tonne Challenge.

The cuts come as the Tories' commitment to the Kyoto Protocol appears to be wavering - Environment Minister Rona Ambrose recently called Canada's targets "impossible" to reach.

Woytuik welcomed the cuts.

"I applaud them for taking steps to (avoid) wasting money," said Woytuik, who highlighted a reported 24 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions under the Liberals.

Ecology North's Doug Ritchie spoke to councillors before they narrowly passed the resolution.

"We are facing a tragedy of immense proportions. The science has never been clearer," said Ritchie, program director of the Yellowknife-based environmental group.

The resolution has no legal clout in Ottawa, but is rather an expression of council's concerns.

An unusually warm winter in the Northwest Territories -- the warmest on record since the late 1940s - is a prime example of global warming and the importance of greenhouse gas-reduction programs, Heyck said.