Canadian Minority PM Abandons Environmental Protection, Embraces Neocon Ideology & Tactics

flagdownAs I predicted, the new right-wing minority Prime Minister has moved quickly to abandon environmental protection in Canada and to try to force-feed Canadians his long-held neocon ideology.

One of Harper’s first moves was to renege on Canada’s commitment to Kyoto, and he did so in the typical neocon weaselly way: Rather than withdrawing, he simply announced that the extremely modest baby-step Kyoto targets to stem global warming were ‘completely unattainable’, and so his government would not even try to meet those targets. Fifteen Kyoto programs that were in place have already been scrapped by the new government. A scientist who has written a novel on the dangers of global warming was prohibited by Harper from launching it, because he works for the Department of the Environment. Gag rule.

Instead, Harper has joined a toady US/corporatist group which promotes technology-change-only solutions — in other words, pollute all you want until someone comes up with a better pollution control technology, and then adopt it voluntarily. This is not only irresponsible, it is inconsistent with his party’s election platform. The lies have begun.

While Harper fiddles, critical environmental issues in Canada keep burning, and are now likely to be ignored completely. As I’ve reported before, the Alberta Tar Sands project is nothing less than an environmental holocaust, and is almost entirely ‘self-regulated’ by the Big Oil companies clearcutting huge swaths of Northern Alberta forests and leaving behind toxic swamps. Regulations over forestry in all five Canadian provinces with significant forestry industries are woefully inadequate. Last week the Sierra Legal Defence Fund published the results of its survey of municipal sewage treatment — Montreal and Vancouver, two of Canada’s three largest cities, are decades away from proper treatment, and Victoria & St. John’s, at opposite ends of the country, continue to have no treatment at all, dumping a combined 67 billion litres per year of raw sewage into the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans respectively.

A recent special study covered extensively last week in the Toronto star showed the average Canadian has in their body 28 carcinogens, 24 hormone disruptors, 18 respiratory toxins and 46 reproductive and developmental toxins, in quantities significant enough to have an adverse effect on health. Most of the test subjects in the study had no known work-related exposures to these toxins — this chemical soup is in all our bodies.

And don’t even get me started (again) on Canada’s disgraceful animal welfare, hunting and fishing laws and regulations.

As the environment and public health are abandoned, Harper instead is dutifully doing the bidding of the Bush neocons, introducing new ‘protocols’ even before he starts enacting regressive legislation. In his most shameful act, Harper has prohibited government buildings from lowering flags to half-mast when Canadians are killed in the futile war in Afghanistan, and has prohibited the media from attending or reporting on military funerals. The Canadian media, not used to strongarm tactics from our governments, are likely to meekly obey the new restrictions. They have already acceded to the new, more restrictive, formal, ‘spin’-focused contact protocols Harper has mandated between media and federal ministers. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” if and when we have something to tell you, is the message.

And, also as I predicted, with each new bill he introduces (starting, of course, with tax cuts) Harper is openly daring the opposition to bring down his minority government, in the hopes that Canadians, fed up with too many recent elections, would give him a majority if they were forced to the polls again. He is wrong. Unfortunately the leaderless opposition Liberals are in such disarray that they are likely to allow Harper to continue this brinkmanship politics to introduce more and more neocon ‘protocols’, deficit-producing handouts to rich friends, and non-enforcement of regulations (you know, the Bush way), until the Liberals’ leadership convention in December.

An ideological extremist, even with a minority government, can do a lot of irreparable damage in six months.Oh Canada, what have you done?

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7 Responses to Canadian Minority PM Abandons Environmental Protection, Embraces Neocon Ideology & Tactics

  1. Don’t get me started. I don’t like him and I didn’t vote for him. His GST plan alone gets me all worked up. And the CBC is already grumbling about the new US-style press conferences.

  2. Linda says:

    I think you need to look specifically at what Kyoto programs have been cut. Many were ineffective and not likely to do anything to deal with the issue of global warming. I anticipate that Harper will be addressing environmental issues beyond global warming. You seem to have made up your mind about S. Harper. My guess is that there won’t be anything he can do (environmental or otherwise) that will meet with your approval. A bit of an “ideological extremist” yourself, eh?

  3. Interesting post – can you elaborate on Canada’s animal welfare laws? I was a bit unsure how they relate to environmental policy, that’s all.I’m doing an essay on animal cruelty crimes (in Australia) so this is a particular interest area of mine! What, in your view, is wrong with Canadian animal welfare laws?Cheers and keep up the great work.

  4. Jon Husband says:

    It’s not really that hard to ‘make up one’s mind’ about Harper. Who he is and what he is is very clear .. all you have to do is watch and listen. Dave has nailed this one.

  5. Jon Husband says:

    and further .. we (Canada) had (and probably still do have) a splendid opportunity amidst all the troil and trouble in the world to step forward in a progressive way, to show leadership to the world on many fronts … and implementing neocon ideology and additional steps to mimicking American-style plutocracy won’t be the way to accomplish that.

  6. Linda says:

    That’s NOT true . . . that it’s easy to “make up one’s mind” about Harper. Either it is not true . . . or I am quite thick, since I don’t agree that “all you have to do is watch and listen” or that “Dave has nailed this one.” (I realize that I have left myself quite open here :-).) What IS easy is to assume a position (for whatever reason . . . frequently emotional reasons) and to select out the “facts” that support your position. Increasingly, I see most political dialogue as doing just that. For my part, I am relieved that the Harper government is distancing itself from Kyoto which I see as a seriously flawed agreement that does little . . . if anything . . . to solve the problem of global warming.

  7. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone. Linda, look at this week’s budget — $8B cut from the environment program, all of it diverted to futile and wasteful defence spending. It doesn’t take an extremist to see that this guy is a mini-Bush, and he’s willing to do anything, including a 2-year deal with the devil (the BQ) that will cripple federalism and make it easier for Quebec to separate, to push his unpopular agenda through. Beware of ambitious politicians who believe they know better than the people what is needed. And by the way, I agree that Kyoto is flawed — as The Weather Makers makes clear, it is woefully inadequate, and doesn’t go nearly far enough. Harper’s ‘answer’ of subsidies to public transit is laughable, or would be if it weren’t so pathetic.

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