Friday, June 30, 2017

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes - but no, no, no, no, no.

Credit where credit's due. The Trudeau government intends a sweeping reform of Harper's worst environmental laws. It's been a long time coming but better late than never.

The proposals — packaged in a colourful 24-page document sprinkled with photographs of nature, graphics and other images — moves the federal government one step closer to delivering on a key Liberal campaign promise to restore public trust in federal oversight of industry.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said the government sought to promote reconciliation with Indigenous people, to improve environmental protection and to encourage economic development with its suite of proposals.

"That's why our government will deliver environmental assessment and regulatory processes that regain public trust, protect the environment, support reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and ensure good projects go ahead that get resources to market sustainably," McKenna told National Observer in an emailed statement. "At the end of the day, we want to get good projects built to create jobs and support communities across our country, while protecting the environment for our children."

I like the mention of regaining public trust. That's not going to be easy. We've been hustled by these guys already, too many times. This is another "trust me" moment and it's not easy to give these characters the benefit of the doubt.

The discussion paper, available here in pdf, is full of photos and charts and constant promises of "we can do better." Of course they can but "better" is an awfully low bar in the circumstances. They should have done better already. Trudeau long ago admitted the national energy board was ginned-up and not to be trusted. Yet, when it came to bitumen pipelines, he reneged on his promise of new environmental assessments and simply rubber stamped the NEB recommendations. Now that those horses, all of them, have left the barn, Trudeau wants to promise to close the barn door.

Admitting you've got a problem is the first step and the pledge to regain public trust is an admission that this government has broken its solemn promises to the Canadian people, especially our First Nations. Regaining that trust won't be easy but, as far as I'm concerned, Trudeau is always welcome to try.


But wait a minute. How about funding for the far northern Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory? Even Harper found money to keep it going.

Dalhousie University's James Drummond is the principal investigator at the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, approximately 1,100 kilometres from the North Pole.

The facility is one of only a handful of research labs in the High Arctic. "It is rather like being on another planet, without having to go through the space travel bit," Drummond said.

The laboratory, which has been operating continuously since 2005, cannot continue to function without a $1-million annual grant from the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) program, Drummond said.

The CCAR program is a five-year initiative that was launched as part of the federal government's 2011 budget. The funding was not renewed in Budget 2017.

Atmospheric scientists at the PEARL facility study the ozone, pollution in the atmosphere and climate change as it relates to the Arctic, and beyond. "The Arctic is changing at a much faster rate than the rest of the planet," Drummond said, and that's having an impact on global weather patterns.

Investment in this kind of science is essential "if we want to be ahead of the curve in understanding climate change," he said.

We need to be able to anticipate what will happen, Drummond said, instead of just reacting to what has already happened.


Toby said...

Do you think they will actually take up the challenges? Or will they content themselves with going to meetings and making pretty reports and Web pages?

The Mound of Sound said...

As I indicated, Toby, I'm not giving them the benefit of the doubt. It's not easy for a gang of proven hustlers to regain the public trust but I'm eager for them to give it a shot. If they can do it, great. I'll praise them for it. I sometimes get slammed as a Trudeau hater. It's his betrayals that I've attacked, not him.