May 17, 2012

Harper's war on the environment

I don't normally post about Canadian politics on my blog, but we're starting to run into a serious problem, here. And his name is Stephen Harper.

I shuddered last year when Harper won a majority government, worried about what he might do with the added power. Now, his intentions are becoming increasingly clear: He's going to wage war on the environment. And he's going to do it in the most insidious way possible, using obfuscation and nasty tricks — and all driven by the myopic need to milk the Canadian landscape for all its got.

Specifically, the Conservative government is looking to pass Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Act. The act itself is deliberately misnamed, as fully 30% of the 420 page bill has nothing to do with the budget at all. Instead, the bill serves as an attack on environmental legislation. Bill C-38, once passed, will repeal the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and introduce a watered-down approach to environmental assessment. It also re-writes the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, and the Navigable Waters Protection Act. In addition, it repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, and cancels outright the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. A complete itemized list of Bill C-38's proposed changes can be found here.

Just as disturbing is the way the Harper government hopes to muzzle interest groups concerned with the environment. The charities sections now preclude gifts which may result in political activity. In addition, Harper's new counter-terrorism strategy lists environmentalism next to white supremacy as an “issue-based” terrorist threat. In other words, legitimate environmental groups, such as Greenpeace and Sierra Club Canada, could face some serious troubles should their efforts work to thwart the Conservative agenda. The strategy even lists animal rights groups as potential terrorist threats.

Even worse has been Harper's attack on scientists. It's gotten so bad in Canada that the journal Nature had to come out and slam the Conservative government for tightening the media protocols applied to federal government scientists and employees. Harper is doing his damnest to ensure that the Canadian public remain ignorant of the devastating impacts of his unchecked strategy on resource extraction.

Essentially, Harper is crippling anything that could undermine his scorched earth policy as far as resource extraction is concerned. The corporatist Conservatives are hellbent on exploiting the tar sands and building pipelines. It's all about squeezing the Canadian environment for every ounce its got, with no reflection on consequences — and with no sustainable vision for the future.

This will end badly for Canada and all Canadians.

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