Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dion Has Nothing to Apologize For

I heard a Conservative spokesman on CBC radio today saying that as Environment Minister, Stephane Dion presided over a 35% rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

This is a lie.

Stephane Dion was appointed Environment Minister by Paul Martin in 2004, and he presided over an aggressive agenda to improve greenhouse gas emissions. In April 2005, 8 months after becoming Environment Minister, Dion launched Project Green, which was a climate change plan aimed at meeting our Kyoto commitments. His program was trashed by the Conservatives when they took power in early 2006.

The 35% figure refers to Canada's rise in emissions from the time it signed Kyoto in 1993. Prime Minister Chretien promoted the idea of greenhouse gas emissions, but he did not do a great deal to contain them. Why did emissions rise? Over half of the cause was the oil boom in Alberta. Some of the rest was due to the low Canadian dollar causing a boom in manufacturing, mostly in Ontario - over this period, manufacturing processes became much less polluting, but the great rise in volume caused greater emissions. Why wasn't Ottawa able to rein in Alberta? Well, the Alberta-based Conservative party (nee Reform, prev. Alliance) had something to do with that. Also, if you remember, Chretien had to devote most of his resources to fixing the economy in the 90s, and every other brief suffered. I'm not arguing that he made the right choice on that, but we all benefit from it today.

During the Chretien years, Dion was not involved with the environment. He was kept busy as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and he did a very able job at it.

See also
Those Pesky Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Earth Day


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6 comments:

Jay said...

The increase in GHG under the conservatives will make 35% look like a drop in the bucket. A doubling in production of the tar sands will move the 35 megatonnes currently produced by them to 70 megatonnes a year. The rumoured 5 fold expansion will result in 175 megatonnes a year.

Anonymous said...

Your right, Dion has nothing to apologize for.


The Liberal Party of Canada, however, is a different story.

Yappa said...

To anonymous, re the Liberal party's record on the environment -

I agree with you, and I think most Liberals do too. When Paul Martin succeeded Jean Chretien in December 2003, the party renewed its commitment to a lot of things that Chretien let slide, the environment being a major one. The environment is an absolutely fundamental priority of the Liberal party leadership and grassroots. Chretien did some good things, but he really let us down on some too.

Miles Lunn said...

I don't think the data is even out yet on how much emissions rose or fell when Dion was environment minister, but he did start to take action. Besides if emissions are rising, you cannot just make them fail with the snap of finger, you have to make changes, which were beginning to happen.

I wouldn't say so much Chretien let us down on the environment, but I think in 2003 it really wasn't a priority for Canadians the way fighting the deficit was in the early 90s, tax cuts, strong economy, better health care, national unity were. Chretien had a good political antennae and generally spent his political capital on areas that would deliver dividends. Now that has off course changed since then.

Anonymous said...

Oh well, Dion won his own fossil award. He can be proud of that.

Danté said...

The Liberals 'achieved' six (count 'em) six Fossil Awards since 2001 alone.

The Liberal Party of Canada - no remorse, no shame - but can we please come back to power? Take me back, baby!