Tuesday March 6, 2007
All talk, no action
By BILL TIELEMAN
As Prime Minister, I will bring Canadians together to ensure that Canada's natural environment is conserved and protected from sea to sea to sea - for ourselves, for our children, for our future, for Canada, and for our responsibility to the planet.
But a close look at his record shows that on green achievements, Dion should actually be red-faced with embarrassment.
While Dion scored an upset win in the December 2006 federal Liberal leadership contest by highlighting his green platform, the longtime Member of Parliament is an environmental dud.
In fact, Dion mentioned the words "environment" and "environmental" in the House of Commons just four times between first joining the Liberal government in January 1996 and becoming environment minister in July 2004 - once every 237 days.
But actions always speak louder - and again Dion has a clear record.
Dion voted with the Conservatives against mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods on Oct. 18, 2001. He joined the Conservatives again in voting against mandatory fuel efficiency for all cars on Feb. 22, 2005.
And as federal environment minister in July 2005, Dion set up a "Chemicals Sector Sustainability Table" to consult on pollution issues - with one of the co-chairs being the vice-president of Imperial Oil's Chemicals Division!
"This move shows that the federal government is determined to kowtow to industry at the expense of the public interest," said Dr. Rick Smith, Environmental Defence executive director at the time. "The creation of this new table is particularly obscene given that Canada ranks as one of the worst countries in the industrialized world for many kinds of pollution."
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Dion's environmental action.
But then again, the federal Liberals themselves had to admit that during their 13 years in power - with Dion an MP for 10 of them and mostly in cabinet - as leadership rival Michael Ignatieff put it about the environment: "We didn't get it done."
Greenhouse gases alone went up 30 per cent under the Liberals.
The party's own 2006 Renewal Commission report confesses that the Liberal government failed to "translate our good environmental intentions into concrete action."
Like when Dion himself reduced offshore oil and gas drilling environmental assessment regulations.
"The science indicates that the environmental effects of offshore oil and gas exploratory drilling are, in general, minor, localized, short in duration and reversible. Under the legislated criteria, a screening type assessment would provide an appropriate level of assessment for such projects," Dion said on Nov. 17, 2005.
But then, that was before he wanted to protect Canada's environment "from sea to sea to sea."
Whatever you say, Stephane.