Prime Minster Harper tried to “green” his reputation as a law-and-order tough guy this week by pledging to crack down on polluters and those that flaunt environmental regulations.
I have one piece of advice for Mr. Harper to prove to Canadians he is serious about this important initiative: Turn yourself in.
When it comes to flouting our international environmental commitments - as well as our domestic laws and regulations - the Harper government is seemingly beyond rehabilitation.
Lets have a look at a small selection from their rap sheet:
Stephen Harper ignored legal obligations under Canada’s Species at Risk Act for preparing recovery plans for over 105 endangered species including the critically threatened Northern spotted owl, whooping crane, swift fox and Vancouver Island marmot.
Minister of Environment Rona Ambrose was later sued by five prominent environmental groups for failing to list the spotted owl as an endangered species. Ms. Ambrose opined that she did not believe the bird faced an “imminent” threat to its survival, even though only 17 owls remain in the wild.
“If the Species at Risk Act doesn’t apply to 17 birds, when will it ever apply?” asked Devon Page, a lawyer for EcoJustice Canada.
The Harper government suppressed the release of an international investigation that the federal government is systematically ignoring its own laws regarding habitat protection and water pollution.
At issue was the allegation that Canada was ignoring the illegal destruction of some 45,000 migratory bird nests annually through clear-cut logging in the boreal forest, and the massive release of toxic effluent from pulp mills into Canada’s lakes, rivers and streams.
If Mr. Harper is doing such great job enforcing our environmental laws, what does he have to hide?
Harper ignored Canada’s binding international obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, throwing in the towel without even trying.
Not satisfied with flouting international law, the Harper government also violated our own Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act , passed by the Canadian parliament and becoming law on June 22, 2007.
This act requires that Canada develop and execute a plan to reduce carbon emissions as per our obligations under Kyoto. Several environmental groups sue the Harper government in federal court for defying the will of parliament.
"This government has broken the law and, as Canadian citizens, we have both a moral and legal imperative to insist on enforcement of our own laws on climate action,” said Beatrice Olivastri, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Canada who filed the suit.
In March 2008, a coalition of environmental groups successfully argues in federal court that the environmental assessment for the massive $8 billion Kearl tar sands expansion was woefully inadequate.
Remarkably the federal and provincial governments had concluded that the project would cause “ no significant environmental impacts” even though it would strip mine 200 square kilometers of boreal forest and dig up enough bitumen to dump 3.7 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere every year – the equivalent of 800,000 passenger vehicles.
The response from the Harper government to the court’s decision ? His cabinet overrode the judge and re-issued the necessary permits within four weeks. So much for respect for our legal system or environmental laws.
Mr. Harpers’ record on the environment is frankly laughable. For him to now portray himself as some kind of green law-and-order sheriff is even more ludicrous.
Stephen Harper is no environmental tough guy. He is a dangerous offender.