Archive for October, 2007

Do what I say, not what I do

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

It turns out that Canada’s “New” government is following its Liberal predecessors’ failures on the environment file in yet another way. The Toronto Star reports today:

The federal environment commissioner says Ottawa has been promising since 1992 to put in place a sustainable development strategy to clean up the actions of its departments but has little to show for it 15 years later.

“It’s one of the many tools that the government introduced … to manage environmental sustainable development well,” commissioner Ron Thompson said.

“It’s a matter of great concern to us that that tool simply is not working.”

Auditor-General Sheila Fraser added that the government’s continued neglect of this plan to factor the environment into departments’ decision-making process is a “major disappointment.”

The goals that have been laid out by the government provide little in the way of expectations for departments to help clean up the air and water, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and make more intelligent use of natural resources.

For the record, that’s a failure to act that extends through 1 Progressive Conservative majority, 3 Liberal majority, 1 Liberal minority and 1 Conservative minority governments. In total 9 Environment Ministers have failed to make a sustainable development strategy work.

The article goes on to say:

Government departments have been producing sustainable development strategies every three years since 1997 and the environment commissioner has written 10 reports so far on the substandard progress that has been made.

But despite consistent promises to take “appropriate action,” little improvement has occurred.

And what is Environment Canada’s response to the report? They promise to “improve the government’s approach” by October 2008. Or, put another way, they promise to do… nothing.

Clearly nothing will change for the better with PMSH and John Baird at the helm, and by October 2008 one of 3 things will have happened.

  1. A new minority Conservative government will be in power. Status Quo, no change.
  2. A new minority Liberal government will be in power. With M. Dion as PM the Environment should be more of a priority, but he is one of the past Environment Ministers who has already done nothing, no change.
  3. Canadians loose all sensibility and elect a majority Conservative Government. Environment Canada is all but eliminated as it is folded into the portfolio of the Ministry of Energy, the Environment Commissioner’s office is disbanded and the sustainable development strategy is abandoned as another “bad Liberal idea” (forgetting, of course that it was PC Jean Charest who instituted the policy in the first place.)

We have got to make a serious change in the House of Commons soon if there is any hope for the environment. Let’s hope that M. Dion will finally allow his party to vote in the House again so that we can begin the process.

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Update on MPs Selling Cars.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

I received this today in response to my complaint to the Ethics Commissioner regarding Wajid Kahn: (Being an MP sells more cars? Oct. 28, 2007)

On behalf of the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, we thank you for your e-mail.

Indeed, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner has the responsibility of administering the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, as well as the Conflict of Interest Act in relation to Public Office Holders, as set out in the Parliament of Canada Act.

In response to your e-mail regarding Mr. Wajid Khan’s Mazda dealership, we would like to point out section 7 of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons which reads:

7. Nothing in this Code prevents Members who are not ministers of the Crown or parliamentary secretaries from any of the following, as long as they are able to fulfill their obligations under this Code:

(a) engaging in employment or in the practice of a profession;
(b) carrying on a business;
(c) being a director or officer in a corporation, association, trade union or non-profit organization; and
(d) being a partner in a partnership.

As Mr. Khan has not contravened any provision of the Code, our office will not intervene in this matter. For further information, we invite you to consult the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons on the following website: http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/process/house/standingorders/appa1-e.htm, or http://www.parl.gc.ca/ciec-ccie/en/, for general information about our office.

The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

Apparently, as long as Mr. Kahn remains a backbencher it’s OK for him to keep on advertising.

Personally I think this is wrong. Being a Member of Parliament carries with it a certain amount of influence in your riding. It seems to me that by appearing in radio ads promoting a business that you can’t help but cash in on that influence. The bar needs to be set high for our elected representatives, and, to my eyes at least, it seems that the bar is not yet set high enough.

I would like to thank the Ethics Commissioner for getting back to me in such a prompt manner. Frankly I had very low expectations. I’m glad to see that at least one department in Ottawa is doing its job.

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Thank God Somebody is Doing Something

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

“British Columbia is teaming up with European Union countries and U.S. states in an international effort to fight climate change.” the CBC reported yesterday.

In the absence of leadership from Canada’s “past-the-best-before-date” Government, B.C. premier Gordon Campbell has signed his province on with the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP).

According to Campbell:

“We believe that if we co-ordinate the development of our cap and trade system with the European system, with the Norwegian system, and with the system in the northeastern part of the United States, we build a larger marketplace, we build consistency and stability over the long term for this and it’s a critical component of us reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases globally,”

Good for him! Just because Mr. Harper has no intention of helping to fight climate change, doesn’t mean that the provinces need to follow suit. In fact, California, Maine, New Jersey and New York were also signatories to the initial Political Declaration released from Lisbon on Oct. 29, 2007

ICAP exists to create facilitate a global framework allowing individual Carbon Markets to learn from each other with an eye to combining them worldwide.

Where was Canada while this historic meeting was taking place? According to Environment Minister John Baird in question period today (Oct 30, 2007), “Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada was represented at the meeting by our ambassador in Lisbon.” When pressed by Liberal member John Godfrey as to the ambassador’s capacity and on the Conservative’s inaction on climate change in general Mr. Baird replied:

Mr. Speaker, we sent a senior representative of the Government of Canada, the most senior representative in the country to be part of these meetings. I look forward to meeting Premier Campbell to-morrow to learn more about these exciting things.”

Apparently “the most senior representative of the Government of Canada” has not bothered to brief the Environment Minister on the talks since he has to wait to meet with Mr. Campbell to find out what went on!

It is clear, the Conservative government has no intention of doing anything on the climate file. It is up to the rest of us to do what is right and advance Canada piece by piece towards meeting our Kyoto targets.

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