The Conservative government has eliminated or terribly weakened virtually every federal environmental law:

The Fisheries Act no longer protects most fish.

The Navigable Waters Protection Act no longer protects most lakes and rivers.

The federal Environmental Assessment Act was repealed in its entirety and replaced with a law so cursory it might as well have been drafted on a cocktail napkin.

Canada remains the only country in the world that signed the Kyoto agreement on carbon pollution, only to withdraw from the treaty.

Even the impressive environmental achievements of previous Conservative governments have been dismantled, such as the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

Canada’s environmental laws were inadequate to begin with. In a 2005 study, a year before the Conservatives took office, Canada ranked 28th out of 30 industrialized countries for environmental performance. Harper just accelerated a miserable trend that was already well-established under Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin.

So now that Canada’s environmental house has been thoroughly burned to the ground it seems to me we have an opportunity … Do we revert to the clearly substandard environmental laws of the 1980s and ’90s or do we take the opportunity to create a truly modern and effective federal environmental architecture? A new, world-class series of laws and policies that for the first time qualify as something Canadians can be proud of.

This brings me to the second environmental legacy of the Harper years: … The great irony of the much-reported, politically motivated Canada Revenue Agency assault on environmental charities is that it has made traditionally cautious and low-key individuals and groups very angry. Blatant injustice tends to have that effect on people.


Rick Smith — the executive director of the left-leaning Broadbent Institute — suggests that people and non-government organizations can band together to defeat the Tories.

Sure, I’d like to see it happening. But I’m not so optimistic.

It’s a nice notion to believe bad government empowers public involvement but the turnout at the poles tells a different story.

Are the NGOs still able to inspire with what can be done with positive messages?

Sorry, I don’t see it.

We have been dragged down in the mud of modern politics of division – politics of denial, willfull ignorance, and fear.

Will Stephen Harper’s action — or inaction on the environmental issue — strengthen the environmental movement?


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