Friday, December 15, 2006

Harper Plans Green Sham III

After a year of a environmental hype followed by September's announcement of a oil friendly, non-action "approach" to the environment, Stephen Harper is planning to reshuffle cabinet in a renewed pitch to paint the Tories as a viable green option.

One of the first changes is expected to be the ousting of Environment Minister Rona Ambrose. In less than a year of heading the Harper government's environmental portfolio, Ambrose has been targeted in three separate lawsuits for failing at-risk species, failed to sell Harper's Clean Air Act to voters, and has made Canada a laughing stock on the international stage for actively opposing action on global warming. But I thought the Chronicle said it best:

Ambrose is generally thought to have been ineffective in flogging the Conservatives’ clean air plan.

But more to the point, she's been ineffective in guiding policy in the wake of a renaissance of environmental awareness.

With Dion casting himself as an environmental champion and the Green party seemingly poised to make electoral inroads, Harper may want to appoint a new minister to try to recapture the environmental agenda.

That is a no brainer, but Harper will face an up hill battle to recapture any green credentials he may once have held. Despite bold promises of action he has failed to acknowledge global warming, avoided any action on oil sands development, avoided addressing automobile emissions, and most hypocritically, done nothing to curb smog - a policy that has little to do with global warming, but one in which he touted as the foremost front he would achieve results on.

Canadians instead saw the Conservatives so-called "Green Plan II" dwindle to an "approach", and any meaningful action descend to mere lip service. Meanwhile, in the face of a growing tide of environmental awareness, Harper has once again stated that reducing greenhouse gases is not a priority.

Harper also reiterated that he doesn't intend to single out the country's energy industry as part of his plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

In the face of past inaction, a surging green party, and new liberal leadership founded on environmental principles, Harper will need to do far more than name a new group of Conservative cronies to his cabinet. What is needed is a new environmental plan that genuinely addresses global warming and gains the support of opposition parties. Otherwise he can start getting ready to move across to the aisle to the opposition side of the House of Commons, and take up his previous hobby of grimacing at the Liberal Prime Minister.

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