Last week it was raining in Whitehorse. It’s not supposed to rain in the Yukon in December.
Climate change is having a dramatic effect on Canada’s Arctic Ã that’s a fact. Increased melting of permafrost is damaging infrastructure here; rising temperatures are also affecting fish and wildlife migration patterns, and causing unprecedented complications for hunters, trappers and fishermen.
Like their constituents, Conservative MPs Ryan Leef (Yukon) and Leona Aglukkaq (Nunavut) are bearing witness to the alarming impact that climate change is having in the North. But rather than addressing this issue, Leef and Aglukkaq have chosen to turn their backs on their constituents’ concerns in order to follow Harper’s policies, which treat environmental protection as a burden instead of a necessity.
Another fact: When it comes to protecting the environment, if you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. This Conservative government’s actions (and lack of action) have proven it to be the latter.
The Stephen Harper government, having been denounced year after year by the international community for its prehistoric approach to protecting the environment, is now pointing the finger at China, the US and India for not doing more to cut greenhouse gases, citing this as the main reason why Canada will run away from its commitment by being the first country to formally pull out of the Kyoto Protocol. This is not only completely hypocritical, it’s also totally unproductive.
The present extraction of oil from the Alberta oilsands without the proper controls has been labelled “highly harmful to the environment” by the European Union and parts of the US, and may result in international sanctions being placed on Canada. Production of this oil could be much cleaner, but the Tories refuse to implement the necessary monitoring and regulation of big industry.
Harper doesn’t like facts Ã they tend to lead to a more informed public, which inevitably leads to more criticism of Conservative policies, especially those that concern Canada’s environment.
Under Harper’s Reform-Conservative regime, the wisdom of First Nation and Inuit elders, who understand that our very survival is dependent upon respecting our environment, is ignored; government scientists, whom we have always trusted to tell us when there are threats to our environment, are no longer allowed to speak to the public. Some of the largest cuts in Canadian history have been made to the Department of Environment and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans; and vital funding for Canada’s adaptation programs has been put on the chopping block.
More research and science would result in more effective environmental monitoring. Since this would subsequently result in more scrutiny from the public and force industries to make changes (that would actually save them money through energy use reduction), the Conservatives must attack logic and reason itself in order to get their way.
As part of Harper’s government, Leef and Aglukkaq could bring about real, positive change on this issue by standing up for the people of the Yukon and Nunavut. Then again, climate change may have caused the Arctic to totally melt and hell to freeze over by the time they work up the courage to challenge Harper.
Blake Rogers, president
Liberal Party of Canada-Yukon