The sheer badness of this policy change is galling, even for a government so obviously in the corner of big energy interests
By Ryan McGreal
Published April 01, 2010
A little over a year ago, a Spectator editorial used the story of the Scorpion and the Frog to describe Prime Minister Stephen Harper's seeming inability to transcend his own mean-spirited political nature.
In that case, Harper's opprobrium toward his political opponents paid off, as he and his party used the prorogue to undermine and ultimately scuttle the coalition of opposition parties waiting for a chance to govern.
Since then, Harper has managed to walk the fine line of giving up just enough to keep the Liberals from pulling the plug on his minority government - though even this new-found spirit of compromise has been subject to the most brazen partisanship and shameless politicking.
Sooner or later, Harper always reverts to form. This time the victim is the popular and highly effective ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program.
Under the program, homeowners could undertake an initial energy audit of their homes. After that they had 18 months to make recommended investments in increased energy efficiency, at the end of which they could have a second audit. They would then be eligible for up to $5,000 in total rebates depending on the level of improvement.
Homeowners who had already conducted the initial audit can still complete the program before March 31, 2011, but as of 5:00 PM this past Wednesday, no new homeowners will be allowed to start the progress.
The sheer badness of this policy change is galling, even for a government so obviously in the corner of big energy interests. As Green Venture, a Hamilton organization accredited to conduct ecoEnergy audits, pointed out in a news release issued today:
Green Venture's energy team employs seven staff and provides thousands of hours of green job experience to area youth. Together, they helped homeowners reduce energy bills by an average of 22% in 2009. This represents a combined annual reduction of around $237,000 or $4.7 million over 20 years (at today's energy prices).
The retrofit work associated with these energy audits accounted for approximately $4.5 million dollars and greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 1,800 tonnes. All this was possible with a modest investment of just over $1 million in federal grants.
The impact of the federal government's rash decision on jobs and economic stimulus is even more alarming when you consider the combined number of agencies offering this service across Canada.
Ironically, the Conservatives themselves started the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program in April 2007, a year after canceling the previous Liberal government's modest and late-arriving EnerGuide for Homes program.
Maybe they'll re-re-launch the program again in time for the next federal election.
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