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Rona Ambrose Takes On The Environment

From August 11, 2008

When Rona Ambrose presented Canada's Clean Air Act, it was full of holes. Cursory analysis found that the act's targets were too far off to be practical and its reductions too low to be useful. As well, the act specified intensity reduction rather than true emissions reduction. Intensity reductions are measured relative to unit of GDP, meaning that actual carbon emissions can in fact continue to rise as the economy continues to grow.

The act was widely panned, but the NDP spearheaded an effort to amend the bill in ways that would make it functional. NDP leader Jack Layton also tabled a private member's bill that would impose on the government deadlines for compliance reports.

Ambrose followed this up with a series of international environmental conference no-shows. First was the two-week Kyoto Protocol meeting in Bonn, Germany. Ambrose was to chair the meeting for Canada but she left after just one day. As for the follow-up meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambrose cancelled at the last minute. Then at the UN Climate Change convention in Nairobi, Kenya, Ambrose again did not attend. Canada's chairmanship was transferred to the next country in her absence.

Later Ambrose implied to reporters that the government of Canada may participate in an emissions credits plan. She soon had to backtrack, as international credits had been rejected as a non-starter by the Conservative government long ago. It was this last gaffe which probably lost her job as Environment Minister: to make a statement contrary to the views of Stephen Harper is worse than any failure.

As for the Clean Air Act, the amendments brought in by the opposition parties were lost when Stephen Harper brought the parliament's term to an end. As for Layton's private member bill, it passed - but the Conservatives insist that they will not comply with its regulations.

All in all, domestically and internationally, Harper's Conservatives have been an environmental failure on every level.