Feds to blame for pollution, not the provinces

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Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier

Just before the meeting of the provincial and territorial governments on climate change,
the federal Environment Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, wrote to the provinces complaining they were not providing the data Ottawa needed for its submission to the United Nations.  The

Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier

Just before the meeting of the provincial and territorial governments on climate change,
the federal Environment Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, wrote to the provinces complaining they were not providing the data Ottawa needed for its submission to the United Nations.  The
letter implied that Canada’s failure to meet its targeted greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions was due to the lack of action on the part of the provinces. At the same time, Prime Minister Harper stressed his opposition to the cap-and-trade agreement between Quebec and Ontario, and to British Columbia’s environment tax.
The reality is that Canada (i.e. the Harper government) does not have a GHG policy and will be counted as a
failure at the scheduled Paris conference on
climate change later this year. To give some perspective to the climate change issue, it is worth reviewing the actions and non-actions of the Harper Government. First, the government claims Canada accounts for only 2% of the world’s GHG emissions. What isn’t stated is that Canada accounts for less than one-half of one percent of the world’s population, so on a per-capita basis, Canada is emitting more than four times
the world’s average per
capita GHG emissions; a report by the Center for Global Development has placed Canada dead last in its ranking of the top 27 industrial countries. Further, Canada has the dubious distinction of being the only country in this group that has not made progress in GHG reduction.
Even the reductions the Harper government tries to claim are rather shallow: reduced CO2 emissions from coal-powered plants to generate electricity. But the reduction is entirely due to Ontario’s decision to close down and replace its coal-powered generators. The federal government had nothing to do with this decision and even expressed some
disagreement with the action. A second claim made by the Harper
government has to do with reduced automobile exhaust, but again, the federal government had nothing to do with this. The state of California developed and began enforcing new emission standards, which were accepted by American automobile manufacturers and became the de facto standard in Canada.
Following the Copenhagen agreement, Canada set reduction targets that would match those of the United States (US). However, it is now agreed by all that Canada will not meet its stated targets. Further, the US has set new
targets for 2025, but the Harper Government will not follow suit. 
By demanding the provinces and territories be held responsible for global environmental pollution emanating from Canada, the federal government is failing to hold up its part in our confederation.  Only the federal government can pass laws that would make excess pollution
a criminal offence and only the federal government can ensure all Canadians share an equal responsibility in protecting the environment now and in the future. Any action taken by the provinces
can be nullified by the federal government, either directly or by
inaction.