In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Effective public policy must be based on the truth

Posted 4/18/2008 by Grant Mitchell


Environment Canada, along with several other ministries in the federal government produced a seminal report last year that assessed the effects of climate change on Canada. This is an immense study which called upon government, academic and private sector resources and authors. It is sobering in the breadth and depth of the climate change effects already evident in Canada. These range from depleting glaciers that will affect water supplies in western cities to thinning polar ice to increased drought and increased precipitation. Ironically there is evidence of the latter two occurring at the same time. How? More rain in hotter times means more evaporation and less moisture remaining in the ground.

Sobering though this report is, it is even more startling to consider that even as this massive effort was being undertaken by government bureaucrats, the Conservatives were denying climate change and cancelling all the Liberal climate change programs implemented by Stéphane Dion, the previous Environment Minister. It begs the question of whether the Conservatives were simply not consulting their department officials on climate change policy or whether they were ignoring their advice or denying the validity of what can be described as only obvious observation of climate change in Canada. This is reminiscent of the proverbial right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, or perhaps even worse, not caring.

Still more disturbing is that Conservatives continually argued that the Liberals had done nothing, that their climate change programs were inefficient. Interesting now is that documents released under the freedom of information act indicate that internal assessments of the Liberal programs were very positive in their conclusions that they were in fact substantial and effective in their impact.

The Stéphane Dion climate change programs were effective, and would have gone a long way to meeting our Kyoto obligations. Mr. Dion also, at that point, had 3 years to do more. Now, we have lost much momentum and time and, worse still, much international credibility. All, I think, because the Conservative government has an ideological aversion to government doing much more than building the military and putting people in jail. Nothing good comes in life from denying the truth and the same can be said of government.

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