The Federal Government Needs to Go Green

 

As we celebrate Earth Day, it’s disappointing to see that the Conservatives didn’t proposed anything to combat climate change in their 2015 budget, which was tabled in the House on April 21. Earth Day drives a whole year’s worth of efforts to change people’s lifestyles and society as a whole. Yet the Harper government continues to subsidize the fossil fuel industry, at a rate of more than $1 billion a year. This budget does nothing to promote renewable energy or energy efficiency. As a result, the federal government is standing still when it should be going green.

For significant change to occur, we need genuine political momentum. This seems unlikely to come from the Conservatives. Yet some figures are alarming. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic sea ice has reached its lowest extent since satellite measurements began. Rather than see reality and act accordingly, the Conservative government has turned a blind eye. Worse still, it made bad decisions, such as withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol, and made Canada look foolish by staying out of the fight against climate change. Unlike the world’s great powers, this government is still refusing to announce greenhouse gas emissions targets prior to the next major UN conference on climate change in Paris in December.

 While the Conservatives tread water, the NDP is making environmental protection a priority. Our constant pressure in the House of Commons combined with citizen engagement helped put a stop to the proposed oil terminal in the beluga whale nursery at Cacouna.

 In addition, the NDP and our leader, Thomas Mulcair, will not support the Energy East Pipeline without an environmental risk assessment and strong public support for the project.

 As my colleague and NDP Environment Critic Megan Leslie said, “The best way to deal with pollution is to prevent it in the first place.” That is why the NDP used its opposition day motion to propose measures that would protect waterways from the pollution caused by plastic microbeads. They’re in facial cleansers, shower gels and toothpaste. Because of their small size, they end up in our lakes and rivers. High concentrations of microbeads have been found in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River sediment, yet the protections for most of our lakes and rivers have not been reinstated. What’s wrong with this picture?

 We can also take action locally. I have been fighting to have the wreck of the Kathryn Spirit removed from Lake Saint-Louis for three years now. We are continuing the fight in 2015. I would like to thank the volunteers who have supported and assisted me since August 2011.

 To make the government go green, Canadians need to get involved—especially young Canadians. Be part of the fight! There’s still time to leave a healthy and liveable planet for future generations.