Stephen Harper tried to kill the Kyoto accord in Parliament five years ago by characterizing carbon-dioxide emissions as an indispensable component of life, according to a letter aimed at raising funds for his former party.
In the letter, obtained by the federal Liberals, Mr. Harper also called the accord a socialist agreement that would only suck money out of the world's wealthier economies.
Mr. Harper wrote the 2002 fundraising letter when he was leader of the Canadian Alliance, one of the two parties, along with the Progressive Conservatives, that founded the Conservative Party. Federal Liberals unearthed and circulated it yesterday in an effort to discredit Tory policies on reducing greenhouse gasses.
The letter was an effort by the Alliance to raise funds to fight the "battle of Kyoto" in Parliament just as the Liberals were moving to ratify the deal.
"For a long time, the Canadian Alliance stood virtually alone in opposing the Kyoto accord," he wrote.
"Jean Chrétien [then the prime minister] says he will introduce a resolution to ratify Kyoto into Parliament and get it passed before Christmas. We will do everything we can to stop him there, but he might get it passed with the help of the socialists in the NDP and the separatists in the BQ."
In the body of the note, Mr. Harper says the accord is based on "tentative and contradictory scientific evidence."
"It focuses on carbon dioxide, which is essential to life, rather than upon pollutants."
Carbon dioxide is one of the chief gases being blamed for global warming. Humans emit it simply by breathing, and it is a key food for plants, which transform the gas into oxygen.
While no scientist disputes that carbon dioxide is key to sustaining life on Earth, the concern is that the increasing density of carbon in the atmosphere is trapping heat and raising the Earth's temperature.
At one point in the letter, Mr. Harper also says the oil and gas industry will be crippled by the accord and that Third World economies will be the ones that are helped.
"Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations."
The letter asks party members to contribute between $100 and $500 to fight the battle.
"We can't stop Kyoto just in Parliament. We need your help at all levels," he wrote.
"We need you to inform yourself about Kyoto, to discuss it with your friends and neighbours, and to write protest letters to newspapers and the government."
Liberal MP Mark Holland ridiculed the letter in the House of Commons.
"When it comes to Kyoto, is this the Prime Minister's version of getting the job done?" he asked.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office, who asked not be identified by name, said Mr. Harper wrote the letter five years after Canada signed Kyoto, and was pointing out that the Liberals had no plan to meet the targets.
"We're going to reduce greenhouse gases and it's not going to take us 10 years to start," the spokesman said.
The spokesman would not comment on the specifics of the letter, such as Mr. Harper's questioning of the role of carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change.