The federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Kent, recently lamented the lack of good news he and his department are receiving in the media. One has to wonder where this Conservative Minister has been for the last few years. Just look at his record.
Under Minister Kent’s watch, the Conservatives have gutted environmental protection, eviscerated the Fisheries Act, dismantled protection of Canada’s lakes and rivers, and drastically reduced the budget of Parks Canada.
With their majority, the Conservatives have rammed through Parliament two omnibus budget bills to avoid scrutiny of the elimination of most federal environmental assessments and the removal of protection for fish habitat, paving the road for resource development with no oversight or consultation with Aboriginal Peoples and stakeholders. After seven years of stalling and polarizing the debate, serious measures to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change have gone nowhere.
Furthermore, the Conservatives have reduced our capacity to monitor polluters and the ability to make evidence based decisions by cutting hundreds of scientists at Environment Canada. They have also cut Canada’s ozone monitoring and research program and are closing the world-renowned facility for freshwater research and education, the Experimental Lakes Area.
Why does Kent think this is all good news? Because the Conservative Party thinks protecting the environment hurts the economy. They’re wrong. Resource development can be responsible and can still create jobs while protecting the environment.
Proper environmental assessments not only ensure that development does not harm our planet, but they ensure that it has a social license to proceed. Without the proper approvals, protests and legal challenges will dog projects for years and create expensive uncertainty for business plans.
Instead of digging his head in the sand, Minister Kent should be restoring oversight and doing his job to fight climate change and protect Canada’s environment. Now that would be great news!
MP Kirsty Duncan - Liberal Party of Canada Environment Critic