Today, we find Stephen Harper is opting out of an EU summit. The "official" excuse is given by the PMO as follows:
However, Sandra Buckler, the Prime Minister's director of communication, said that neither Kyoto nor trade relationships played any part in the government's decision.
“We had an EU summit this past summer,” when European leaders met with leaders of the G8 in St. Petersburg, Ms. Buckler said yesterday. “There was a conclusion that one would not be needed so soon afterward.
“The government does have a heavy legislative calendar in November,” she added. “The Prime Minister has a great deal of extended travel as well this month. Given those reasons, along with the fact the Prime Minister feels strongly he should be in the House of Commons, it was decided a trip now wasn't possible.”
Hang on a second here - according to the CBC, Harper will be attending:
Still, the prime minister plans to attend an APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) meeting in Vietnam later this month, as well as a NATO conference in Latvia around the same time.
So...this doesn't exactly add up. You can make it to these other conferences, but not the EU? Horsefeathers.
The natural speculation from EU leaders is probably closer to the mark than either Harper or his communications advisor Sandra Buckler are willing to admit:
“The undertone is pretty bitter,” stated one European official who asked not to be identified.
There is widespread belief that Canada cancelled the meeting because EU officials announced that the question of Kyoto Protocol targets would be placed on the agenda.
European leaders are upset with the Conservative government's proposed Clean Air Act, which abandons Canada's pledge under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
Of course, Harper's going to be miffed about this since the climate change issue is on the agenda - especially when Tony Blair (Bush's former toy poodle) has started to diverge from the opinion of the American government on the matter.
Given how the CPoC has not dealt well (at all!) with the "dissent" (read - differences of opinion), it's a pretty good guess that Harper doesn't want to be caught "on the record" by European media over his non-policy on the environment.