Canada, France come together on climate-change fight

Canada, France promise to double down on climate-change fight amid U.S. inaction

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, long billed as kindred political spirits, agreed Monday to a fresh, fortified attack on climate change — hoping to keep a shared priority at the forefront of the global agenda despite Donald Trump’s decision to quit the battlefield.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna was on hand to sign the new France-Canada partnership on climate and environment in a ceremony at the French presidential palace during the first day of Trudeau’s official visit to Paris.

“France and Canada today pledge to redouble their efforts and increase their co-operation,” Trudeau said in French during a news conference with Macron following the ceremony.

“This initiative will encourage and accelerate the achievement of the Paris Agreement targets through concrete measures to make this agreement in principle a reality.”

The partnership comes as Macron has taken it upon himself to personally champion the Paris deal since Trump made good on his threat to withdraw from the climate accord last year.

RELATED: Canada, provinces lack clear plan to adapt to climate change, auditors say

The France-Canada partnership, which includes pushing for a global price on carbon and reductions to transport-related emissions, also falls squarely in line with Trudeau’s government priorities for the G7 in Quebec this June.

And with France having the G7 presidency in 2019, senior Canadian officials said, the hope is that the exclusive group of nations will continue working toward the goals laid out by the Paris Agreement, with the international community following their lead.

What remains unclear is how Trump will respond to any perceived attempt to force him into a stronger position on climate change, though the officials insist no one is trying to back the U.S. president into a corner.

Interestingly, the government is also hoping the partnership will convince the French that Canada is indeed serious about fighting climate change — and that ratification of the new Canada-EU free trade deal will eventually follow.

There have been concerns in France that investor-protection clauses within the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement — or CETA, as the Canada-EU deal is known — would lead to weakened environmental rules.

RELATED: Albas: Climate targets not being met

At one point during Monday’s news conference, Trudeau found himself defending the trade deal, noting there aren’t many other countries that are better suited to a free trade deal with Europe than Canada.

“Whether its environmental protection or freedom of expression or other things, Canada and France are well aligned. Canada and Europe are well aligned,” the prime minister said in French.

“And CETA is a progressive trade agreement that truly reflects those protected values and represents a new standard for all future trade agreements.”

Trudeau and Macron also marked the establishment of a new cultural agreement, this one signed by Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, that included promoting the French language in “the digital space” and affirming the two countries’ support for net neutrality.

While climate and trade were at the top of the agenda for Trudeau’s meeting with Macron, also top of mind was the West African nation of Mali, where France is leading a counter-terror mission and Canada is sending peacekeepers.

On Sunday, Islamic militants there launched a brazen — and troublingly sophisticated — attack, disguising themselves as peacekeepers and then setting off several car bombs and attacking with rockets.

The attack, near the northern city of Timbuktu, killed one UN peacekeeper and wounded at least a dozen soldiers, some of whom were from France.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was thanked twice on Monday for agreeing to send Canadian peacekeepers to Mali, first by the head of the Francophonie, former Canadian governor general Michaelle Jean, and then by Macron.

“Canada made the decision to participate in Minusma with the addition of helicopters and support personnel,” Macron said, using the official name for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

“And as you know today we are very, very connected to Minusma and I think this is a very important gesture that has been made by Canada, and we very much appreciate it.”

Canada is sending six military helicopters to Mali later this year; they will be based at the UN base in Gao, rather than Timbuktu.

Trudeau wraps up his visit to France on Tuesday by becoming the first Canadian prime minister to address the French National Assembly, after which he’ll fly to London to meet British counterpart Theresa May and the Queen.

The prime minister will then attend a meeting of Commonwealth leaders on Thursday before returning to Canada, stopping to Halifax to attend the Liberal party convention.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rec lax league seeks new blood

Experienced and new players are welcome

Island Health warns of overdose spike

A spike in overdoses in the Cowichan Valley has Island Health officials… Continue reading

Check out Kim’s Convenience to cash in on family humour

Originally a play and then a TV show, immigrant story features much more in store

Siblings receive prestigious honour

Doug and Danielle Groenendijk earn all-Canadian awards

VIDEO: B.C. man recognized for spinning basketball on toothbrush

Abbotsford man holds world record for longest duration of time of 60.5 seconds

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Former Social Credit MLA dies at 88

Lyall Hanson was mayor of Vernon in 1981 and moved to provincial politics from 1986-96

WATCH: Officers recognized at 10th anniversary of anti-impaired driving program

Alexa’s Team has grown from 26 members in 2008 to the current 2,400

Police searching for escaped prisoner in B.C.

Ralph Whitfield Morris, 83, is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder

B.C. set to introduce pot laws, but years of fine tuning likely: minister

Legislation regulating recreational marijuana is expected to be introduced Thursday

Arrests made after truck crashes into unmarked police cars in Nanaimo

Two men facing numerous charges after allegedly fleeing scene on the mid-island

INTERACTIVE MAP: Follow the 2017 Tour de Rock

Follow the Tour de Rock, as they pedal more than 1,000 kilometres fundraising to combat paediatric cancer

Canadian driver uses lawn chair as driver’s seat, gets caught

Ontario police detachment caught the male driver during a traffic stop

Most Read