We deserve an energy plan, a climate plan, and the new industrial revolution of clean-tech and renewables. The first step is for Harper to get out of the way.
Elizabeth May always cuts to the heart of the matter and I cannot
but agree with her that Harper (and his cohorts) 'getting out of the
way' is indeed the first step in reversing the slide to the bottom
that they have started on this and many other issues that effect
The following by By Green Party Leader
Elizabeth May, Green MP Bruce Hyer
What is an environmental issue? However you define it, Harper is
“Environment” means different things to different people.
To some, it is the natural world for which conservation values
will protect sustainable populations and ecosystems for future
generations. The roots of that conservation ethic go back to the late
1800s, and Gifford Pinchot, the first dean of Yale School of
Forestry. The ethic embraces “sustainable use” of forests and
fish and the renewable resources that have supported economies.
Then, there’s the more modern concept of environment, stemming
from Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, published in 1962 and credited
with helping launch the environmental movement in the U.S. The 1960s
era of environmental awareness was actually more concerned with how
human activity and new technologies-in this case toxic synthetic
pesticides-threatened species, but perhaps more significantly, human
health as well. Now that the publication of Silent Spring has passed
the 50-year mark, it hardly is “modern” anymore. Our current use
of the term “environment” has increasingly been subsumed in the
media into one issue only-climate change.
Yet, climate change is not primarily an environmental issue. Sure,
it involves the environment. In the same way drowning involves water,
but we do not describe drowning as a “water issue.” Climate
change, like drowning, is a survival issue. Climate change is an
issue that can be described best as a security threat-although it
involves questions of energy, economy, and the environment.
The harsh reality of our current political climate is that all the
basic notions of the environment are under assault. We have entered a
political era of “decision-based evidence making.” Stephen
Harper’s administration has launched an unprecedented assault on
government science. More than 2,000 scientists and researchers in the
federal civil service have lost their jobs. Most of these scientists
were working in areas of the “environment.”
All the scientists working in our national parks have been laid
off. Fisheries and Oceans has lost all its habitat specialists after
Bill C-38 gutted the Fisheries Act to remove habitat protection. The
entire Marine Contaminants Program at DFO has been eliminated. The
list is long. Mr. Harper is not just neglecting science; he is
attacking any science or data or evidence that runs contrary to his
beliefs or agenda.
Meanwhile, even though the only legislative change Harper has made
to the Species at Risk Act was to remove the application of SARA when
a pipeline is involved (also in C-38), still SARA is being more
broadly undermined. Species at risk are going unprotected.
National parks no longer exclude oil and gas activity (with the
tragic circumstances of the creation of Sable Island National Park.)
This could be the thin end of the wedge for industrial activity in
parks, in general. Meanwhile, parks are being privatized piecemeal,
as is clear from the Jasper National Park “ice walk,” the Banff
hot springs, and now a hotel proposal inside the national park in
Jasper. Harper may have expanded national park boundaries, but he has
endangered the protection of what lies inside the boundaries.
The pressure to clear away any regulatory hurdles to oil and gas
expansion has led to the wholesale dismantling of decades’ worth of
environmental laws and regulation. From legislation passed under
prime minister John A. Macdonald (Fisheries Act and Navigable Waters
Protection Act) to laws passed under former prime minister Brian
Mulroney, (the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and National
Round Table on Environment and Economy), nothing is sacred. The last
eight years bear witness to a devastating reversal of environmental
law in Canada. It needs to be said that Canada’s laws never were as
strong in environmental protection as those of the U.S. or other
industrialized countries, such as Germany. In the race for the
bottom, Canada has no competition.
Nowhere is the abdication of environmental responsibility as
disturbing as in the area of climate change. Harper first cancelled
our legally binding Kyoto targets, then withdrew from the treaty,
adopted his own targets for GHG reductions in Copenhagen in 2009, and
has now declared those will not be met either. True, he has not
actually declared his rejection of his own targets, but the new
timeline for oil and gas regulations, first promised when John Baird
was environment minister nearly seven years ago (The “Turning the
Corner” plan), make it clear no real effort is contemplated.
We all use oil. We will for a long time to come, but it must be
used wisely, and we should all seek to reduce our consumption as much
as possible, and shift to more renewable and sustainable energy
sources. The sad and dispiriting irony is that if Canada embraced
real action, we will create more jobs and revitalize our economy
faster than by pursuing the mindless vision that puts all our eggs in
the bitumen basket. Canada deserves better. We deserve an energy
plan, a climate plan, and the new industrial revolution of clean-tech
and renewables. We can still get there from here. The first step is
for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to get out of the way.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May represents Saanich- Gulf
Islands, B.C., and Green Party MP Bruce Hyer represents Thunder
Bay-Superior North, Ont.
Originally published in the Hill
A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.