stephane dionApparently there was a Liberal Party convention in Canada this weekend, with all the twists, turns, and drama you’ve come to not expect at all from Canada. The end result was a "stunning upset": underdog and "straight shooter" Stephane Dion, an academic-turned-politician who most recently served as Canada’s Minister of the Environment, was elected new head of the Liberal Party and, in all likelihood, the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Dion has made environmental issues the center of his public life and his campaign. He’s a big backer of Kyoto (he even named his dog after it!). See here and here for two remarkable speeches on how to make a greener Canada.

Perhaps John, our resident Canadian, can step in and offer us some informed background. Oil Drum Canada has some reflections.

Here an extended excerpt from Dion’s acceptance speech:

Throughout this leadership race, I have proposed such an ambitious project, one that is so needed. I call it the Three Pillar Approach: weaving together, better than any other country in the world, economic prosperity, social justice and environmental sustainability.

In the 21st Century, the countries that will succeed — that will lead — will have the strongest, most sustainable economies. These countries will be rich because they use energy efficiently. Because they use their precious natural resources wisely. Because they recycle and conserve. Because they will export their solutions to the world, and they will earn megatonnes of money with it. I want Canada to be one of these leading countries, at the front of the line.

The main issue of the century, the one on which all others depend, is the junction between the economy and the environment. In other words, no less than the reconciliation between the people and the planet. It is the responsibility of Canada, as well as its self-interest, to tackle this issue.

I say that a country so blessed – with 10% of the world’s fresh water, 7% of the world’s land, and 14% of the world’s energy reserves must be a responsible custodian to the world. As the aboriginal proverb says, "We do not inherit the planet from our ancestors, we borrow it from our grand children."

I say that we, as a country of 33 million people, who are consuming as much energy as the entire continent of Africa with 800 million people, our duty is to be part of the solution.

When the former Chief economist of the World Bank warns that humanity may lose, because of climate change, a fifth of its collective wealth over the next decades, I know that we Canadians are listening. The problem is that we have a Prime Minister who is not listening.

Yes, my fellow Liberals, the world needs Canada. Under my leadership, Canada will not fail the world.