A walking, talking contradiction

Imagine being the individual who gets blamed for every environmental problem in the country. If that was not enough, there is the public expectation that the issues will be resolved during your term of office...

It must be tough being the Canadian Environment minister.

Imagine being the individual who gets blamed for every environmental problem in the country.

If that was not enough, there is the public expectation that the issues will be resolved during your term of office.

Finally, the current federal government, no matter who is minister, is not known for its initiative when dealing with environmental issues.

Some of the issues are really big, too, especially in the North.

The most pressing is climate change.

Projections for increases in temperature and changes in precipitation patterns are going to have serious impacts on existing animals and plant life.

On the Arctic Ocean, the disappearance of summer sea ice is expected within decades.

The effect this will have on the planetary environment is not known for certain, but all the projections are not good.

It is regrettable that the current federal environment minister belongs to a government which is choosing to not deal with the causes of climate change at all.

These causes are the releasing of greenhouse gases by humans burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.

As if that was not enough of a burden, the minister has to deal with another northern issue.

The current federal environment minister also happens to be the minister responsible for northern pipeline development.

As the pipeline minister his responsibilities includes both proposed mega pipelines.

The first is the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline running from the Mackenzie Delta along the Mackenzie River Valley into Alberta.

The second is the proposed Alaska Highway Natural Gas Pipeline, running from Prudhoe Bay down to Fairbanks and then essentially following the Alaska Highway to northeastern

British Columbia by going through the Yukon.

Of course the minister is only responsible for the Alaska Highway pipeline on the Canadian side of the border.

Either of these northern pipelines will convey literally billions of cubic feet of natural gas, a fossil fuel whose consumption is causing climate change.

The development of the natural gas fields in the North to feed those northern pipelines will destroy sensitive northern ecosystems through drilling rigs, feeder pipelines and habitat

fragmentation.

Think Northern Alberta if one wants to imagine what the North could look like.

But the huge concern is all that fossil fuel being burnt and the greenhouse gas emissions increasing the severity of climate change.

But do not worry.

There is a federal department that will protect the North from climate change.

The Department of the Environment is no doubt stepping up to the plate, probably at the cabinet level, to ensure that Canada dramatically reduces its consumption of greenhouse gases.

Now, this is not to say this puts the minister in a conflict of interest.

It just points out the contradiction of his dual roles.

It should also make for interesting discussions next week when Jim Prentice, Canadian Minister of the Environment, is in Whitehorse as part of the Canadian Ministers of the Environment meeting.

No doubt the other Jim Prentice, the one who is the Canadian Minister Responsible for Northern Pipeline Development, will also be present.

When the talk turns to major initiatives Ottawa will be taking to reduce fossil fuel use, it should be extremely interesting to see which minister speaks.

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse based part-time environmentalist.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon RCMP are making an appeal for information in the case of Mary Ann Ollie, who was murdered in Ross River last year and whose case remains unsolved. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Submitted
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read