Climate Change

Dirty Politics Over Clean Energy

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 18, 2007

We keep hearing in the news that the Conservatives are starting to take the environment seriously.

Well, this is true, but not in the way most people might imagine. For this government, 'taking the environment seriously' means recognizing that Canadians believe climate change is the biggest challenge we will face this century and attacking that belief head-on with an idiocy offensive.

This is the party that grew out of the Alberta energy sector and has spent the past year trying to obscure the fact that it has done nothing about climate change by pointing out that the previously governing party didn't do much about climate change either, and then actually cancelled the few meager initiatives, like EnerGuide and EnerGuide for Low Income Houses, that the Liberals had finally put in place.

Harper and company have not done an about-face on climate change, and their choice to replace Rona Ambrose as Environment Minister should make that clear.

John Baird, Stephen Harper's attack dog, the guy who, as President of the Treasury Board, made a billion dollars in ideological cuts to government (like eliminating the Court Challenges Program, research into medical marijuana, and Health Canada's Policy Research Program, and cutting funding to Status of Women Canada and the National Crime Prevention Centre), and the guy who effectively killed Ottawa's planned light rail extension through his politicking during the November municipal election, was not chosen because of his environmental sensibility.

He was chosen because he knows how to fight dirty, shout down the opposition, and bury good ideas in political muck. As Andrew Coyne pointed out:

The point of Mr. Baird's installation is to ensure [climate change] does not become an issue. Like a hockey coach on home ice, Mr. Harper has the advantage of the last line change: Mr. Baird has been sent out to check [Liberal leader Stephane] Dion. But the intent is to neutralize, not to polarize.

He's going to have his work cut out for him. The government just announced, through (the notably un-shuffled) Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, that the government is going to spend $230 million over the next four years to look into clean energy.

Sounds okay so far; in fact, it sounds suspiciously like the Liberals' 2005 Sustainable Energy Science and Technology Strategy, a five-year, $200 million program to look into clean energy that the Conservatives killed in 2006.

However, Lunn pointed out that this time, the "clean energy" the government is looking into is nuclear power. "Nuclear energy is emission-free, there's no greenhouse gases, there's no pollutants going out" as energy is produced, Lunn told reporters.

This is one way the Conservatives will neutralize the environment as an issue in the election that's sure to come sooner or later.

By bogging the country down in a spurious debate over nuclear power, the Conservatives hope to enjoy the best of both worlds: not having to do anything about climate change even as they whine publicly that the enviro-zealots won't let them do anything about climate change.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Rantman (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2007 at 17:24:48

Well lets spend more taxpayers cash on some
B.S. study. Nuclear is sorta tidy except after the fuel is spent or Bob shuts off the wrong valve cause he must rush to his second job cause he is way over taxed. Probably from some studies the gov't did. Electric cars could really help .If they would make them again they should be TAX free. Some will say this only moves the tail pipe. True ,but one big one with some good tech is better than many without any real tech.This will piss off their oil buddies but they know its coming. Soon we can sue the crap out of big oil just like tobacco and spend that on some studies on how to better help the oil industry.Thats it people Consulting is our new answer to how to get back some of the money we have been giving the gov't to pay for that first world war.Which by the way was the Brits not wanting Germany to get the Sudan's OIL.

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By A Robot (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2007 at 23:23:09

Wow Rantman, you sure lived up to your name with that one.

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