The rise of Justin Trudeau as the ‘anti-Trump’, determined to drive through an ambitious climate plan, is a breathtaking reversal from his predecessor, who pulled the country out of the Kyoto agreement

There is a telling moment in Al Gore’s new film An Inconvenient Sequel when Justin Trudeau goes up to the former US vice president at the Paris Climate talks in 2015 and eagerly introduces himself, prompting him that he is Canada’s new prime minister.

Canadians have long chaffed about being overlooked by their powerful and populous southern neighbour, but for the most part could at least comfort themselves that they were seen as the good guys on the global stage.

That all changed from 2006 to 2015 when Stephen Harper, the son of an Alberta oil executive, was prime minister, and turned Canada into what environmentalists called a petro-state, slashing green regulations, silencing its own climate scientists, and launching a campaign to exploit Alberta’s energy-intensive oil sands, far dirtier than conventional oil production.

Although a signatory to the 2004 Kyoto agreement, precursor to the Paris Climate Agreement, Harper’s government did nothing to implement its commitments, and in 2011 shocked the world by pulling out of the UN process altogether, with Greenpeace labelling Canada a “climate criminal”.

For liberal-minded Canadians the angst of those years was compounded by the progressive strides being taken by Barack Obama in the White House, wearing the white hat...

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