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Kyoto needs to be ratified: it is time to move the pendulum back the other way.

One of the things I liked about Ronald Reagan, the ex-president of the United States, (actually the only thing) was that he could reduce a very complex political issue into a tiny home-spun story. He also liked to use charts and he had a very soothing voice. He got away with almost anything.

For instance, people still think he was a conservative Republican, even though he left office with the country choking on debt. Choking on debt is what left-wing tax-and-spend Democrats are supposed to be good at, but I digress.

My Ronald Reagan explanation of why we need to sign the Kyoto Accord without the benefit of a soothing voice or charts is as follows:

When I was growing up in Toronto in the early 1960s (10 to 15 years old) I spent more time between Dec. 20 and Mar. 5 on the outdoor rink across the street at Mallow Road Public School than I did doing any other thing, including thinking about girls. I was there all day Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and almost every day after school. At 10 p.m. when the lights went out I would go home, get ready for bed and watch the custodian bring out the fire hose and water the rink using the headlights of his truck-for light. When the rink was done I could sleep well. To this day I appreciate that the rink man did not use up valuable hockey time while the lights were on to get the rink fixed up.

If I die and come back a Canadian, it will be as a swimmer, not a hockey player.

There is no more rink at Mallow Road School because there is no more ice. There is no more ice because the weather has changed.

So there you go. That is why we have to sign the Kyoto Accord.

And if you need more proof ask Walter Gretzky if he could have shaped Wayne into one of hockey's greatest players, out there in Brampton, in this weather. He would say "No." So there you have it.

There are other concerns of course, like floods, draughts, melting polar ice caps, rising ocean temperatures, disappearing fish and wildlife, and the ozone layer, but the real telling matter will be insurance rates.

Can you imagine trying to be in the insurance business when you do not know what sea level is going to be?

There is going to be a battle royal over the Kyoto agreement. There are going to be a lot of weasel words on all sides.

What is really scaring Ralph Klein and the oil companies and the big users of oil is that Jean Chretien does not have to get elected again.

No election campaign fundraising. No leadership runs that need funding.

Let us just say for the next 18 months there may not be full congruence between Liberal policy initiatives and campaign donations.

Now that he is on his way out, count me in on big Jean's team.

I hope the prime minister will have the courage of his recently found convictions.

The battle has already begun with attack ads from the Alberta government.

It is going to get ugly. Companies will start announcing disinvestments, the chambers of commerce will start squealing like trained seals the Alliance party can be counted on to begin piling on as much as possible, and Paul Martin will be squirming.

In Canada we have been given so much, and it has to be said, wasted so much. We have been lousy stewards of our gifts. We have destroyed much of our fishery, we have clear-cut forests larger than most countries, and we have polluted most of our lakes. It is time to move the pendulum back the other way in the direction of sustainable development It needs to be done while we still have the sovereignty to do so.

My recommendation as an unpaid communications adviser to the Liberals would be to ask one-hundred-year-old NHL hockey players to make a two-minute commercial, something like "Where is my hockey rink?" They would be wearing bathing suits and shoulder pads. They would be crying or at least sniveling. There would be a backdrop of this year's Olympic hockey triumph. There would be music and flags.

That is what Ronald would do.

Michael Atkins is president of Northern Ontario Business Ltd.
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Author:Atkins, Michael
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 1, 2002
Words:734
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