As you’ve likely gathered, I’ve been away for a week. Out of the country, actually. This morning, the radio kindly informed me that, while I was gone, the Conservative party made a series of announcements and declared themselves “green.” (Clever of them to wait until I wasn’t looking to spring this stuff. Not sure how they got their hands on my travel plans, but I’ll find out.)
“Good,” I thought. Then, I looked into the details. “#$@%,” I thought.
Turns out, there were two main announcements. The first announcement came on Wednesday, with a $230-million investment in “clean energy” research. (Those of you keeping score at home will note that that amounts to 16% of the $1.4-billion of our tax dollars that go to the oil and gas industry which, by the way, really doesn’t need it.) This sounds like a great idea at first, until you realize that the Conservatives have defined “clean” as “coal and oil.” I’m not going to dignify that with any further analysis.
The second announcement regarded energy rebates for home retrofits. Again, a good idea that has been masterfully neutered. With the Conservative plan, all you have to do is pay for an energy audit ($200-$300), then pay for the renovations to your home (say, $1000 and upwards), then apply and wait for your rebate while you hold off the credit card company. Somehow, I don’t predict long line ups for this one. Better than nothing, but not much help to people who don’t have thousands of dollars lying around, or who don’t own their homes.
The really amazing thing about these two plans is that one year ago when “Canada’s Newest Government Ever!” took power, better versions of both these ideas already existed, and were then promptly eliminated. In fact, Stephen Harper’s government has frozen or killed more than a dozen climate-change programs since they took office, including the EnerGuide program.
Of course, those programs were also not enough, and saw Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions rise by 24% through to 2004, and more since then. If these ideas are “green,” it’s because they’re really old and stuff has started growing on them. It’s past time for more than positioning, Harper.