Pro-Kyoto Canadian gov’t likely to fall as Montreal climate meet begins

Some 10,000 officials, activists, and scientists from more than 180 countries are gathering in Montreal today for a U.N. climate-change summit. It was supposed to be Canada’s moment to shine: Its influential and persuasive environment minister Stephane Dion, a strong Kyoto advocate, is chairing the summit and intends to lead negotiations on what should come after the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. But alas, distraction. The Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin will likely be felled by a no-confidence vote today in the House of Commons. That would trigger elections in early 2006, and if the Liberals lose out, Dion could be replaced by a minister from the Conservative Party, which has its political base in the oil-rich Alberta province and isn’t terribly fond of the Kyoto agreement. “It’s the nightmare scenario that environmental activists around the world have been hoping would be avoided,” said Elizabeth May of Sierra Club Canada.