Time to commit, Harper

“There will be some who want to cut and run, but cutting and running is not my way and it’s not the Canadian way,” said Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper, reinforcing his government’s stance on military participation in Afghanistan. Yet, when it comes to another Canadian engagement, Harper has taken the opposite approach, refusing to honour Canada’s signature to the Kyoto Accord.

Canada has pledged to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels as part of the 1998 agreement signed by the former Liberal government. To date, however, real action has been dismal. Canada’s GHG emissions have actually increased by over 35 per cent, though this is not due to unrealistic goals–as the Conservative government would like you to believe–but rather a lack of any real attempts to cut our emissions.

In a weak attempt to reach Kyoto targets, the Liberals introduced the One Tonne Challenge. Canadians were confused by Rick Mercer commercials, the puzzling website and its dubious concept. While some environmentally conscious individuals were willing to sign on, the commitments of the challenge are immeasurable and unenforceable. The challenge also fails to address significant industry emissions. In general, it characterizes many programs to come out of the latest Liberal era–administrative and cost-heavy, ineffective and inefficient.

The failure of the One Tonne Challenge should by no means discourage the Conservatives from making an effort to achieve Kyoto targets. Instead, they should learn from the mistakes the program made.

If managed effectively, an emissions credit program could help to hit the lofty Kyoto bulls eye. Such a program would operate as a market for pollution. Industries able to eliminate emissions could sell their credits to those facing greater difficulty cutting back. If the initial amount of credits distributed to corporations was set at 1990 levels and was slowly reduced in 4-year intervals–in accordance with Kyoto–the system would work. However, such a plan would require the Harper Conservatives to play hardball with big business, but given the pervasive corporate influence on Parliament Hill and Harper’s recent affinity for reducing corporate and investment taxes, this scenario seems like fantasy.

The first few months of Parliamentary action has been highlighted by the proverbial kicking of the Liberals prone body. The Conservatives have braggingly revealed the gross mismanagement of the gun registry, while the Liberals respond by questioning their own commitments–namely Afghanistan–made only months earlier. If Harper was truly looking to promote Canada’s image as a trust-worthy country and to prove that his Conservatives deserve the position they currently hold, he should be honouring all of Canada’s existing commitments–not just those that will win favour from our neighbour to the south.

Jon Roe

Sports Editor

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