Monday, April 02, 2012

Harrper's War On The Environment

Canadians were quite happy not go to war in Iraq -- even though Stephen Harper said we had a moral duty to be there. And they were shocked this summer when the prime minister suggested that Canada should take on Iran. But, when Canadians learned during last week's budget that Mr. Harper had declared war on the environment, they shrugged. Christopher Hume writes in The Toronto Star that:

Even by the standards of a regime defined by its leader’s paranoia, Flaherty’s desire to stifle all debate about the environment was heavy-handed and ominously anti-democratic. Such vindictiveness indicates Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s generals are more concerned that they let on about the real impact of the tarsands, the exploitation of which has become his government’s Holy Grail.

If there was ever any doubt that Harper, Flaherty and Co. were in the pocket of big oil, last week's budget should have dispelled that illusion. Unfortunately, the majority of Canadians don't seem to be upset:

On that score, however, the population will give [Harper] a free ride. Though Canadians like to think they care about climate change, they are singularly unwilling to do anything about it. Mere mention of relatively benign measures such as road tolls, increased gas taxes and so on has normally mild-mannered Canucks sputtering in their beer.

Besides, these are hard times; Canadian should consider themselves lucky to have a resource such as the tarsands, one that will provide thousands of jobs for decades to come.

Harper claims to be far sighted, even as he takes Canada back to the days when we were hewers of wood and drawers of water, Like his ally, Rob Ford, he worries about the "war against the car." Yet 400,000 Torontoians voted for Rob Ford. And Stephen Harper -- admittedly by stealth -- is Prime Minister of Canada.

It happened on our watch. Cassius was unhappy when Julius Caesar declared himself Emperor. But he understood why it had happened. "The fault," he told Brutus, "is not in our stars but in ourselves."

This entry is cross posted at Eradicating Ecocide.


Ron Hart said...

Canadians shrugged about Harper's war on the environment because they understand only too well that he is in office until 2015.

But don't confuse indifference with simply accepting reality.

In 2015, when Mr. Mulcair is elected Prime Minister,common sense will once again prevail and Canadians will rally to start to undo the damage.

Owen Gray said...

We can hope, Ron, that Elections Canada and the courts catch up to Harper before 2015.

Kirbycairo said...

The very fact that Canadians have been so little moved by the environmental negligence of the Harpercons demonstrates that the real way to address the issue is not simply to make traditional energy consumption more expensive (as so many on all sides seem think), but instead to shift Canada's resources and make it a global leader in alternative energy. Unfortunately, while the Liberal and Conservative parties have no interest in changing things, the NDP and the Greens imagine that ensuring that the market reflect the 'real' costs of energy will fix the matter, forgetting in the process that the ones that will really suffer in such an effort will be the rural and working-class people. What we need is a government that will undertake truly monumental efforts to create alternatives that are practical for average people and which can build a new kind of future for the country.

Owen Gray said...

It's worth remembering, Kirby, that Stephane Dion's "Green Shift" was a serious attempt to deal with the environmental crisis.

The Harperites -- who really have few ideas, and those they have are essentially feudal -- refused to debate Dion on a policy basis.

They swiftboated him (as George W. Bush did to John Kerry) and no one has been willing to deal with the issue since.

The truth is that the Harperites are shrewd but dimwitted. Anyone who listens to Dean Del Maestro comes to that conclusion immediately.

Kirbycairo said...

Unfortunately the so-called "green-shift" is exactly what I am talking about - an effort to simply make non-renewable resources more expensive in the belief that the "market" will correct things from there. Obviously, the Harpercons "swift-boated" Mr. Dion, but if we face the issue honestly, his was another in a long line of ideas that put way too much faith in the "market," and it would have failed and brought down many working-class people with it. Recent changes in the auto market demonstrate that when resources get expensive and scarce the only ones who are really hurt are the working-class. I lived in El Salvador and it taught me that the capitalist only really need a small but hugely wealthy group to keep going and they couldn't care less about the rest. It is the market which brought us environmental disaster and trust in the market to solve the problem is folly, Dion didn't understand that and neither did Jack Layton. (And the Greens definitely don't understand it.)

Owen Gray said...

If you're arguing that markets are not the efficient mechanisms the right would have you believe, Kirby, I agree.

But I'm not sure alternative mechanisms are any better. That said, governments should set the rules of the game.

The problem is that, for thirty years, governments have been hell bent on getting rid of the rules.

That's what got us into this mess.

Kirbycairo said...

Well, I think we really have to face the fact that the so-called "market" is something of a myth. Even Smith was careful to point out the distinction between the "market" and the economic system of "capitalism" in general. The government is, in fact, continuing to set the rules of the game, but they do so in favor of the biggest and richest players.

And when I say an alternative, I mean that the only meaningful 'green' plan I can envision which does not also significantly favor the rich, is one in which large social efforts are made with collective resources into developing alternative energies that are affordable, equitable, and environmentally meaningful.