Monday, February 1, 2010

Prentice and Tories have head in the sand on climate issues

With reports coming out of the Davos conference that Canada's voice at the meeting is being widely ignored after the Conservative government's shameful performance at the Copenhagen climate talks, news that Environment Minister Jim Prentice has shut environmental groups out of the process come as no surprise. When Prentice replaced political pitbull John Baird as Environment Minister, some in the environmental movement hoped that the appointment of Prentice, generally seen as one of the Harper governments more skilled and less partisan ministers was a sign that after the days of Baird being used to "neutralize" the issue of climate change, and that the government was serious about the issue. However, this is not a sign of a government that takes the issue seriously:

A search of Canada's Lobbyists Registry revealed that Environment Minister Jim Prentice met with some nine times as often with lobbyists from the oil, energy and other industry sectors than with environmental interest groups.

Energy producers are obviously important stakeholders in discussions on environmental policy, and they play a vital role in our economy, but to let one side of the issue shape the policy agenda so totally is an abdication of responsibility on the part of Jim Prentice. Perhaps this section gets more to the root of the issue:

"The dirty little secret about this government is that its relations with the bureaucracy are very, very poor, and particularly with the policy side of the bureaucracy. It doesn't trust it, and it doesn't trust the options and the policy prescriptions its being given," he said. "There really is an imperative for them to reach out to players in the private sector for expertise, for policy help, for analysis because of the fundamental distrust it has with the bureaucracy."

In other words, confirming once again that this government views the public service not as a non-partisan tool to help implement policy and agenda set, but as a group of villains, to be distrusted as long as they don't hold a Tory membership card. The Conservative government is letting Canadians down once again with this abuse of power and willful ignorance of the crucial role fighting climate change will play in the 21st century.

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