Harper assault on environment continues

Prime Minister Harper has dropped any pretence that he cares about Canada’s natural environment, reducing the federal government’s oversight role to miniscule proportions.

“It is full steam ahead for development, with rubber stamps in the place of actual regulation.  Canada’s natural resources will pay the price and future generations will have to suffer the aftermath,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands.

With the spin of reducing duplication, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has announced that the federal government will download environmental assessment to the provinces and reduce the number and types of projects that have to undergo any assessment at all.

“It is a fallacy to suggest that the environment is provincial jurisdiction.  Fish fall under federal regulation, even if the water is provincial.  It has always been the case that the federal government plays a strong role in environmental assessment. This is outrageous,” said May.

Oliver’s announcement also includes strict timelines on environmental assessments and permitting processes.  “The end point of an assessment should be determined by whether the work is done, not by an arbitrary deadline,” said May.  “It is just another way of undermining the process to the benefit of industry and to the detriment of the public, First Nations, and the environment.”

“Mr. Harper and Mr. Oliver try to say that ignoring environmental impacts is the way to create jobs. It is incredibly backward thinking.  As seen in many other countries, the future of the economy is in green jobs – renewables, technology, energy efficiency.  The rest of the world will judge us—Canada will lose our place as an international leader and be known as a country where anything goes,” said May.

European Union governments have aligned their economic objectives with climate-protecting goals. The Government of China is investing billions in green technology.  The Harper Government has made Canada the only country in the industrialized world to cut environmental protection and to reduce investments in green energy.

With high energy prices, dwindling oil supplies, and the coming climate crisis, a strong economy depends on mobilizing resources to develop and commercialize low-carbon technologies. Canada should be looking to the future and taking advantage of these opportunities.