Canada’s Environmental Disaster Day

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Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier

June 5 is World Environment Day; it’s run by the United Nations Environment Programme to raise global awareness about taking positive environmental action to protect nature and planet Earth.  However, for Canadians, October 10, 2014 can be viewed as Anti-Environment Day.

Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier

June 5 is World Environment Day; it’s run by the United Nations Environment Programme to raise global awareness about taking positive environmental action to protect nature and planet Earth.  However, for Canadians, October 10, 2014 can be viewed as Anti-Environment Day.
The day started with a report to Parliament by the Commissioner of      the Environment and Sustainable Development – a branch of the Auditor General’s office. In this report, the Commissioner (Julie Gelfand) took       the Harper government to task on a number of      serious environmental problems and pointed to the fact that Canada       will not meet its greenhouse gas emission reductions promised at the Copenhagen 2009 conference. “When you make a commitment, you need to keep it,” she noted.
She also found the   government’s policy of sector-by-sector regulations is not working;     regulations for the oil and gas sector, promised in 2006, are still not forthcoming and indicated the government has had draft regulations for the oil and gas sector on the shelf for about a year. However, only private industries in Alberta had been consulted on the draft proposals. The Commissioner enumerated a number of ways climate change is hurting Canadians and called on the government for a more open and transparent approach to environmental issues that would involve the public. 
As bad as this was for Canada’s environment, October 10 was also the date the Auditor General of Alberta (Merwan Saher) released his report; he examined the first report from the Joint Canada-Alberta Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring. In 2012, Alberta and Ottawa announced a three-year plan to jointly track the effects of oil sands     development on air, water, and biodiversity in    northern Alberta; Federal and Alberta politicians described the operation as a “world-class” system. Saher found the report lacked clarity and key information and also     contained inaccuracies. Further, he was disturbed that the report was more than nine months late of the targeted release date and flagged weak project management and poor communication as problems plaguing the project.
These two reports    document major issues with the Federal and Alberta governments’ policies and actions on environmental issues. The fact they both became public on the same day only increases the awareness of the problems. However, neither government seems particularly concerned with the       deterioration of Canada’s      environment and the long term negative effects on the lives of Canadians. 
There is one hope left. The Commissioner of    the Environment and Sustainable Development stated the Federal government did not create any policy for the oil sands beyond 2015. With 2015 as an election year, there’s one last chance to call upon the Harper government to start taking the environment seriously.