The True North Strong and Dumb
A few months ago, Rhead set a Legal Planet record for attracting comments: 33 (mostly hostile) reactions on a relatively straightforward post about how Canada had achieved the gold medal for “fossilhood”, i.e. most antagonistic to a climate treaty.
Well, it appears as if Rhead has understated the matter:
Federal Conservatives are downplaying concerns over Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s newly-selected boss for Environment Canada and the bureaucrat’s knowledge about global warming.
The department’s new deputy minister, Bob Hamilton, ran into trouble last Monday at a parliamentary committee when he was asked to explain what causes climate change.
“Wow. Umm. They didn’t tell me I’d have to answer questions like that when I took this job. I think that it’s – I don’t know the total answer to that –,” said Hamilton, before Conservative MPs interrupted to prevent him from continuing.
Note: this isn’t just any member of Parliament or even the federal government: it’s the boss of frigging Environment Canada.
My Dad was born in Montreal, and large chunks of my family still live there and in western Canada. So I’m a Canada-ophile. But environmentalists have given the Dominion (if one can still call it that) pass on its environmental policies. Especially under the Harper government, it has become essentially a Petro-state, deriving an enormous portion of its national income from mineral extraction. We need to be careful with this, because Canadian positions on the environment vary significantly by region and province: British Columbia, for example, has recently instituted a high successful carbon tax.
But our perceptions of other nations’ climate policies need a readjustment: as I pointed out last week, China has instituted a cap-and-trade scheme, and India has invested heavily in solar. Middle income countries understand the danger of climate change the opportunities for growth presented by clean energy technology. Do we?
Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…READ more