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

Port Alberni gets colourful

First-ever 5k Colour Run drew a crowd

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally

Alberni wrestler heads to University of the Fraser Valley to compete

Ravi Manhas is one of 10 recruits signed to the Cascades for 2018-19

Taxing Vancouver Island

Big Read: find out which communities are paying the lowest and highest taxes on Vancouver Island

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

Rainbow crosswalk in B.C. defaced 10 days after installation

Surrey’s first rainbow crosswalk has been defaced sometime over the weekend

Closing arguments expected in trial for twice convicted Canadian killer

Crown, defence expected to give closing arguments in Millard murder trial

Pigs crash yoga class in B.C.

First it was goats, now it’s pigs — you can get downward dog with the whole farm in Aldergrove

Canadians undertake the world’s most dangerous peacekeeping mission

A dozen Canadian peacekeepers arrive in Mali as yearlong mission begins

U.S. justices won’t hear case of anti-gay marriage florist

The case is regarding whether business owners can refuse on religious grounds to comply with anti-discrimination laws

Kangaroo stops play during Australian soccer match

The women’s game stopped play for more than 30 minutes on Monday due to the kangaroo

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Most Read