Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mulroney: It's the environment, stupid

It's hard to imagine Brian Mulroney and Stéphane Dion agreeing on anything. However in a rare interview previewed this morning on CBC Radio One, Mulroney said the next election may very well be fought on what's becoming a huge concern for Canadians: Having a sustainable and green economy, and which party -- the Conservatives or the Liberals -- present the best hope in that field.

Mulroney said what a lot of Canadians have been thinking: The Clean Air Act as currently written has a lot of holes in it, enough to drive anything through it. The only thing Harper has going for him right now is the promise of more tax cuts.

Say what one will about Brian, but he's got a point, and he does have several marks in his favour on that count. He led the fight to ban CFCs in aerosols and cooling units. He was also among the leaders who endorsed the recommendations of the Bruntland Commission and at the Rio Summit in 1992 made an unusual offer to developing countries: Clean up their acts, he said, and Canada would forgive their debts and lower import duties. He also lobbyed hard to get America to toughen its Clean Water Act (which it eventually was), and here in Canada he expanded the national parks system substantially.

He does have a point about the previous Liberal government being "tiptoe through the tulips" about our air and water, and Dion has a lot of explaining to do to reburnish his credentials. Dion may have won the Liberal leadership over the issue, but winning over a party and winning over the country are two different things. On the other hand, what has Harper offered so far? One national park, and a plan to get rid of toxic chemicals. Both fine ideas to be sure, but it's just a nosejob.

Over the coming holidays, I'd like to hear more about what both Harper and Dion have in mind. I have a feeling the election will be sooner than when the pundits are saying, and even in Alberta people are starting to get worried about what damage has already been done to the water supply by the oil sands, not to mention what's yet to come.

Mulroney may be a pitiful fellow, but at least he did something. Harper has no right to claim his legacy or that of any other Prime Minister regardless of stripe.

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