Monday, April 2, 2012

Conservative attacks on eco groups should give LPC an opportunity to reach out

A lot has been written about the attacks on environmental groups in the recent Conservative budget, most of it negative, such as this Globe and Mail editorial:

While the Conservatives are wasting your tax dollars to go after legitimate environmental groups (full disclosure: I am currently working part time for an environmental organization, although as the group is not a charity I don't believe the new guidelines would impact us) and gut Elections Canada, I believe the federal Liberal Party should use this as an opportunity to expand ties with environmental groups across the country, and help ensure the importance of the environment in the Liberal platform.

I think in retrospect a failure of the Green Shift in 2008 was that a lot of environmental groups couldn't be brought onside to promote it and the Liberal Party as the best choice for environmentally minded voters. One only needs to contrast how vocally environmental groups rallied around the Ontario Liberals in the most recent provincial election to see the difference this kind of support can make. Both the NDP and Conservatives seem to be wanting the next election to be framed as an economy/environment battle (as Paul Wells has written extensively about) for different reasons, and the Liberals risk being shut out of this conversation (which would be terrible for any hopes of escaping third-party status) unless we can present a pragmatic middle ground approach, and talk about building the green economy and creating jobs here in Canada in a way neither the NDP or Conservatives can do. Having the support of the environmental movement behind a green jobs approach would be absolutely vital, and I think the Liberals need to move quickly and firm up these ties, while at the same time keep active talks open with the natural resources sector, to make balanced environmental regulations and create jobs, without the vilification of either environmental activity or the hard-working Canadians who work in the natural resources sector.

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