Thursday, July 20, 2006

Conservative Environmental Plan In October

This article details some leaked components of the Conservative's long awaited environmental plan. Some highlights:
The strategy will include a clean water framework, a clean technology strategy, regulation of toxic chemicals and new measures to clean up contaminated sites, said a source who has been briefed on its contents.

The environmental assessment process is also expected to be revamped.

There will be a new health index for air quality, similar to the ozone index which measures the risk from ultraviolet solar radiation, said another source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But there won't be new taxes to discourage the use of fossil fuels, and the key issue of what to do about the Kyoto Protocol is still undecided.

Funding figures are not determined. They are expected to be less than Mulroney's plan which provided $3 billion over five years....

Some elements of the proposed plan such as setting air-quality objectives for the long term but not the immediate future, mirror similar measures in the United States.

I don't want to pre-judge anything until we see the legislation, but it is important to remember that:

1.The Clean Air Act is essentially nothing new:
Environment Minister Rona Ambrose is expected to announce a consultation process for the promised federal Clean Air Act in the coming days. But according to leading environmental groups including Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, David Suzuki Foundation, Pembina Institute, and Environmental Defence, Minister Ambrose already has the tools and information she needs to put strict limits on air pollution in Canada - she just needs to use them.

"Minister Ambrose is essentially re-inventing the wheel here," says Julia Langer of the World Wildlife Fund. "Going through all the hoops to create an entirely new Act could take too long; meanwhile our cities are shrouded in smog."

2. Toxic site cleanup is already in the pipeline:
OTTAWA (CP) - The Liberal government says it will allocate $4 billion over 10 years to clean up contaminated sites, including the notorious tar ponds in Sydney, N.S.

The commitment is in a throne speech unexpectedly strong on environmental themes.

The speech Monday reaffirms the goals of the Kyoto climate protocol on climate change and promises "an equitable national plan" to achieve those goals. It promises Ottawa will tighten national guidelines on air and water, ensure safe drinking water in aboriginal communities, and increase investment in new environmental technologies.

"I'm pleased," Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club, said in an interview. "This is more specific (in environmental commitments) than any throne speech I can remember." May,

3.Toxic chemicals have already been addressed to some degree, probably the only positive thing this government has done.

4.Long-term strategies is clear Bush code for putting off targeted emission controls, which is the essential cornerstone of any initiative. If the Conservatives don't commit to near-term goals, forget it, it's all bluster.

A glimpse as too whether this will be substantive vs fluff:
Conservative strategist Goldy Hyder said last week he expected a major policy on the environmental front "marketed, promoted and achieved in a way which is consistent with its governance style of trying to make its policies relevant and meaningful to people."

Translation, the Tories will sell this hard with lots of attractive language. The key will be getting Canadians to focus long enough to see if there is real merit, beyond the public relations campaign. Given the players, a critical eye is required.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Canada is destined to become a "pollution superpower" don't you know.

wayward son said...

Unless their plan includes strong action on green house gases - which I am sure it won't - then it is essentially useless.

Sure we will clean up the air and water in Canada - but as for our huge ghg emissions which are cooking the world - well fuck em.

Steve V said...

My guess, there will be lots of talk about investing in "new" industries, ala Klein's clean coal talk, that will extrapolate into the future with unknowns, while the present remains.

dalestreet said...

I'm quite surprised that the grassroots Tories in Canada aren't screaming blue, bloody murder when it comes to the environment.

Perhaps they're not aware of how much tax revenue is spent subsidising the very industries that are the main contributors to pollution and GHGs in Canada.

I wonder if they'll notice when we start paying twice, first in subsidies to create pollution and GHGs and then again in fines when we fail to meet our Kyoto targets.

Steve V said...

"I'm quite surprised that the grassroots Tories in Canada aren't screaming blue, bloody murder when it comes to the environment."

Everyone seems to buy into this "made in Canada" solution and are united in their hatred for Kyoto.

dalestreet said...

Steve

The thing that blows my mind is that the tax-lowering, wasteful-spending-hating grassroots Tories aren't having a shit haemorrhage over the fact that they are paying billions of dollars in corporate welfare to industries that are raking in profits hand over fist.

For all of their tax dollars that are being pumped into the oil & natural gas industry, they're not even getting a break on the price of gas.

And whether they like Kyoto or not, we've signed on and are responsible for the penalties incurred when we don't meet our targets.

It just seems like this kind of government waste would be right up their street, yet not a peep. Go figure?

wayward son said...

>>The thing that blows my mind is that the tax-lowering, wasteful-spending-hating grassroots Tories aren't having a shit haemorrhage over the fact that they are paying billions of dollars in corporate welfare to industries that are raking in profits hand over fist.<<

The thing that has always slayed me about Conservatives is that they are about responsibility when it benefits them, but not so much when it doesn't.

For instance when it comes to welfare - What? They think they should be able to sit around and do nothing all day? Screw them. They should take personal responsibility instead of forceing the rest of us to support them. This culture of entitlement must end. (the same goes for things like universal health care, education etc)

On a different instance like say the environment. - What? You think I should be responsible for my own pollution? screw you, it is my right to pollute, mind your own business.

Consistency?

CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

If Harper wants more votes in Quebec, will he follow Quebec's latest lead in providing its citizens with an environmental right?

Let's see if the New Tories under Harper will put their money where their mouth is. On April 19, 2006, Quebec had a new law called the Sustainable Development Act. One of its most significant provisions is the addition of a new right of citizens under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. This clause 46.1 provides that: "Every person has a right to live in a healthy environment in which biodiversity is preserved, to the extent and according to the standards provided by law." If this new law is not adhered to, the citizens have a right to an injunction (stop doing it!), an action for damages for the purpose of remediation, and even to punitive damages.

So, Quebec is walking its talk of environmental protection, by driving down to its citizens the right in clause 46.1. This pioneering step makes each and every citizen a participant in the policing of the planet and the enforcement of environmental laws.

Quebec has given its citizens the power to protect their environment.

Will Harper follow suit on the federal scene? Or will his new environmental policy – designed to replace Kyoto – be hollow in this area as well?

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