Hill Times: Sustainable development experts call Harper Govt an international embarrassment on environment
Read this story from the Hill Times on Canada’s rapidly deteriorating global reputation on the environment following a federal budget that would gut many environmental laws and protections. One internationally renown sustainabile development expert, Maurice Strong, claims, “It has been the most anti-environmental government that we’ve ever had, and one of the most anti-environmental governments in the world.” (May 9, 2012)
Experts on sustainable development say the majority governing Conservatives made significant strides on conservation and banning toxic substances during their five years of minority rule, but the Tories are now abandoning environmental efforts altogether, and some fear the most recent federal budget’s focus on development over the environment risks further damaging Canada’s international reputation.
“Canada has custody over one of the largest environments in the world. It’s resource rich, and that gives us a special responsibility—one which this government is not exercising,” Maurice Strong told The Hill Times last week. “It’s very discouraging, and we’re going to pay a very heavy price for the policies of this government.”
Mr. Strong has represented Canada internationally in a variety of capacities over the past 50 years, beginning with his tenure as deputy minister for External Aid—now CIDA—in the early 1960s and served as Petro-Canada’s first chair after it was established in 1975. He is credited with convening one of the largest summits of world leaders in history, as secretary general of the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Policy makers from throughout the international community will reconvene to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit and hold talks on developing the green economy next month in Rio. Mr. Strong, who is an honorary professor at Beijing’s Peking University and today advises the Chinese government on sustainable development, was in Ottawa last week to speak at a Rio +20 planning event organized by economic think-tank Sustainable Prosperity.
Mr. Strong, who turned 83 last week, did not mince words in criticizing what is increasingly seen as anti-environmental policies by the federal government.
“It has been the most anti-environmental government that we’ve ever had, and one of the most anti-environmental governments in the world,” Mr. Strong lamented.
The Conservatives have been criticized throughout their six years in government for offloading environmental responsibilities to the provinces and obstructing international efforts to address climate change, but with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s (Whitby-Oshawa, Ont.) 2012-2013 budget—the Tories’ first budget drafted as a majority government—experts on sustainable development say that the government has confirmed its intentions to fast-track industrial development at the expense of the environment.