February 9, 2011

Still waiting for the Environment Minister to protect the environment

Fort McMurray Photo by sbamueller via Flickr

The Minister of the Environment oversees the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which states on its website: “Our role is to provide Canadians with high-quality environmental assessments that contribute to informed decision making, in support of sustainable development.”

The Agency’s commitment to sustainable development (SD) is ensconced in the preamble to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (the Act), established in 1995:

…The Government of Canada seeks to achieve sustainable development by conserving and enhancing environmental quality and by encouraging and promoting economic development that conserves and enhances environmental quality. …Environmental assessment provides an effective means of integrating environmental factors into planning and decision-making processes in a manner that promotes sustainable development.

Sounds great! To BC citizens’ delight, they blocked the Prosperity Mine development in BC (Jim Prentice’s parting gift). But since new Environment Minister Peter Kent’s appointment, all I have heard him do is defend and spew lies about the oil sands.

“I have a feel for the sensibilities of the people, of the environment,” Mr. Kent says, yet he seems clueless that the majority of Canadians are concerned about climate change, something about which his government is clearly not. Otherwise the Conservatives would be taking leadership on greenhouse gas reductions and fighting climate change. Instead, they block international consensus in order to preserve the economy — an economy that cannot function without the environment. And why is the environment the last item on Kent’s website’s quicklinks list?

Does the Minister not know his own ministry’s mandate? Minister Kent is spending more time protecting the economy than the environment, though if he did his homework, he’d understand they aren’t mutually exclusive.

Well, at least there’s some good news, from the United States.

Related post: Alberta’s tar sands a humanitarian issue, too

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Note: I am writing solely on my own behalf, and do not claim to represent the David Suzuki Foundation or its views here.