December 13, 2011

[Criminality] Problems Upholding Our Own Environmental Laws

Two of today's leading headlines on CBC News read as follows:

May Accuses Harper of Breaking Law Over Kyoto

Environment Canada Struggling to Enforce Law

The basic finding in the first article is that the Harper government is violating domestic law by withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol without any kind of parliamentary debate or discussion, since the Protocol was ratified by the House of Commons and later received royal assent. One of the dangers of Harper's unilateral withdrawal from Kyoto is that the Protocol requires good record keeping of GHG trends in Canada, so there is a worry that Harper now might scrap the budget of the GHG monitoring programs (just like he scrapped the long gun registry and the long form census). Of course, one major ramification of the Harper government's announcement of withdrawal from Kyoto is that Canada is now a complete embarrassment, an international pariah that is seen as a bully and selfish member of the global community that cares little about others and fails to come to grips with the severity of climate change. It really is a shame that the rest of the world is acquiring such a negative image of this country - a shame for which we can place blame squarely on the shoulders of the leaders of the Conservative Party.

The basic finding in the second article is that the Harper government is failing to uphold it's own environmental laws. But the second level of travesty in this news story is that the auditor who has been trying to improve the systems we have for regulating the environment is typically ignored by the Harper cohort. Reports by the federal environment commissioner - Scott Vaughan - have been repeatedly repudiated or simply brushed aside by members of the Harper caucus, in particular the Minister of Environment - Peter Kent. In his report, Vaughan noted how senior management at Environment Canada "refused to acknowledge the facts presented in this report."

My friends, we are in the ironic position of having a government which claims to be 'tough on crime', but whose own approach to environmental law is basically being labelled as criminal by two high-ranking members of the Canadian government (Member of Parliament Elizabeth May and the Federal Environment Commissioner). What does one do when their own government - claiming to be tough on crime and open to dialogue and democracy - somehow makes unilateral decisions that impact the entire planet without a minute of democratic debate, and which seems to violate national and international laws? It's time that our members of parliament act in the best interest their constituents: display your vote lack of confidence in Stephen Harper and his cronies, and bring in a new political leadership that cares about the future of the planet!

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