OTTAWA (CP) - Environment Minister Rona Ambrose wants the auditor general to review all federal climate programs to determine whether the public is getting value for its money.
The audit could renew attention on the flawed Liberal record on climate change when the Conservatives are having trouble with their own agenda on the issue.
Some opposition critics say the timing of the audit is absurd, since the Conservatives have already cancelled most of the climate programs which existed under the previous government.
I agree an audit is absurd, given the circumstances, but even more mind melding is the fact Ambrose misleads by suggesting we don't have comprehensive, independent conclusions.
Let's use the cancelled Energuide program as an example. Environment Commissioner Johanne Gélinas:
"Our audit was limited to three programs managed by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan): the Wind Power Production Incentive program, the Energuide for Existing Houses program, and the Ethanol Expansion Program. Each received $100-million or more in federal funding. We examined what greenhouse gas emission reductions the three programs had achieved, what they have cost, and how NRCan monitors and reports on program results and spending.
"We found that each of the three programs had made progress. As of March 2006, the programs had achieved about 22 per cent of the 4.8 Mt reduction that NRCan expected the programs to achieve by 2010.
The Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. 2006, from the Auditor General website:
The EnerGuide for Existing Houses program was introduced in 1998 and aimed to improve the energy efficiency of existing houses and reduce residential consumption of heating fuel and electricity. Before it was cancelled in spring 2006, the program had two components: home evaluations and grants for renovations.
What we found. Natural Resources Canada surpassed this target. In its Report to Parliament under the Energy Efficiency Act for the Fiscal Year 2004–2005, Natural Resources Canada reported that energy consumption was reduced by an average of 27 percent in renovated homes.
Last week in committee, Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell:
Since the Conservative government took power it has cancelled a number of energy conservation programs aimed at consumers, including the One-Tonne Challenge, an advertising campaign, and EnerGuide, which provided subsidies for home-owners to upgrade their houses.
Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell asked Ambrose for any studies to support the government’s contention that those programs weren’t working.
Mitchell quoted from a Natural Resources Canada memo he obtained under access-to-information law, which gave the programs high marks.
“All NRCan programs were assessed to be on track to meet or surpass their objectives,” says the memo which Mitchell provided to reporters.
“The energy conservation and renewable programs were found to be effective in stimulating emissions reductions. They will contribute over 20 (megatonnes) in reductions by 2010, mainly at a cost of less than $10 a tonne which is extremely cost-effective.”
How about a review of Rona Ambrose by the auditor general "to determine whether the public is getting value for its money?" If bullshit was gold.
UPDATE The gift that keeps on giving.