Well earned congratulations go to all three winners of
yesterday's federal election: the Harper Conservatives, who got
their majority and may now succeed the Liberals as Canada's
"natural governing party"; the Layton NDP, who became the
Official Opposition with a chance at government some day; and Elizabeth
May, who won the Green Party's first elected seat in
What will all this mean for the environment? On most day to day
environmental issues of air, water and waste, the federal
government plays a limited role, behind the provinces and the
municipalities. The major national and international environmental
issue is climate change, widely described as Stephen Harper's
least favourite topic, despite wilder weather and water stress.
That thorn in the government side, the Kyoto Protocol
Implementation Act, may now be repealed or gutted. Instead of
a national cap and trade or carbon tax, we will likely see
expensive hopes for ethanol and for carbon sequestration, and ever
closer ties with the US. Like the US, we may see more cutbacks in
resources for Environment Canada, but perhaps with the same or
greater funding for clean and renewable energy options, as
proposed both by Obama and by the NDP. We may also see more
enforcement of environmental offences, as it fits well with the
government's "tough on crime" agenda.
Where will the best environmental ideas come from in the next
four years? I will look first to the articulate Elizabeth May, and
to other environmentally focussed MPs such as Linda
Duncan, who has tried for so long to get her federal
Environmental Bill of Rights passed. The NDP has long environmental
roots, although they were less apparent in their current program.
NGOs like Pollution Probe and Evergreen will also continue to play an
essential role in the idea space. The Conservatives will likely
look for an opportunity to take something environmental from the
NDP platform, most likely the palatable concept of Green Bonds. But who knows? My crystal
ball is in for repairs.
Good luck to all the new MPs- may you serve our country
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