12 December 2006

Ambrose v Dion

I'm reading this piece in the Globe that trashes Rona Ambrose. Blatantly incorrect information held up as fact in front of the media and parliamentary committees; public embarrassment internationally; a "plan" that kicks into gear in 2025; and now a call for the auditor to look into every single Liberal environmental initiative. I suppose if you're not going to do anything, you might as well talk about how bad your predecessors were. A good offence really can be the best defence.

But in the discussion forum, there was a lot of talk about Stephane Dion, and his "lacklustre" performance as Environment Minister. I'm surprised this wasn't more of an issue in the leadership race, to be honest. When it came up in the Toronto debates I didn't think M. Dion handled it that well; worse, one day after his election as leader, he was taken to task by two CBC anchors and he also did poorly - I thought - explaining how he could run on a platform elevating environment to a third pillar when during his tenure as Minister Canada's greenhouse gas emissions increased. He spoke about his three pillar vision and what he wants to accomplish, but he didn't or couldn't reconcile that with the very pointed questions about his performance when he was ostensibly the leader on the file.

So, as a thank-you to M. Dion for holding a joint fundraising dinner with my friend Gerard Kennedy, I will provide - absolutely free - a three-point (english-language) response to this question, to be used liberally between now and E-day.

1) Firstly, I became Minister of the Environment in Paul Martin's minority government only in July 2004. So I had barely one year as Minister before we had to fight another election. It is very difficult to turn the big ship Canada in the best of circumstances, and environmental impact takes a long time to manifest itself. So, I am not surprised that there was no visible improvement, and even if there had been I could not have taken credit for it.

2) Also, Canada's economy performed very well over this period, and that growth was led by some of our dirtiest heavy industries. This is why "intensity-based" targets must be rejected, as they would allow for continuous increases in emissions and discourage the biggest polluters from making environmental investments. But this underscores the impact that uncontrolled growth has on our environment, and serves to remind us that our economy must be sustainable as well as productive.
3) Most importantly, the environment was not a top priority for the Martin government, and is an even lower priority for the Harper government. I ran on the three pillars vision because I believed the environment had to be made a central issue in government. The Liberal Party agreed with me. Soon we will ask Canadians if they are prepared to make the environment a central issue in the government of this country. I believe they will, and that the next government of this country will be a Liberal government with not only an environmental vision, but with a strong mandate to take action.
And we all know that working together, we can accomplish anything.


Anonymous grace said...

The problem with the discussion held in the globe and mail (I'm a subscriber) comments is the blatantly incorrect comments the "right" has been spewing about M. Dion. They keep harping (no pun intended) that he was environment minister for 13 years and did nothing. The actual fact is different. M. Dion did a lot during his short tenure as environment minister (a year) and probably would have elevated to the level he proposed in his platform had he been given more time.

Perhaps it's your bias towards M. Kennedy showing, Gavin, but all the interviews I've seen of M. Dion, I am prideful he was my first choice.

December 12, 2006  

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