Harper Deserves Credit for Clean Air Act?

Thu, 2006-10-12 14:48Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Harper Deserves Credit for Clean Air Act?

That headline, minus the question mark, appeared in a column today in the upstart Vancouver daily, 24 Hours, under the byline of Erin Airton.
First, by way of full disclosured, Airton was, until recently, a colleague at James Hoggan & Associates (Hi Erin; hope you're well, and that you don't take any of the following personally).
I think it's fair to say that Airton brings a particularly partisan perspective to her work - her column, for example, is not called “Left On” - so it's no surprise to hear her defending Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The headline on her last column was Harper unafraid to say the right thing.
It was, however, a surprise to see that Airton imagines that Prime Minister Harper has announced “mandatory curbs on carbon emissions.” Unless Erin is party to some insider information (which is entirely possible), she'll have to admit that Harper announced that he has a Clean Air Act in his back pocket, the important details of which are:
1. his government plans a year of consultation with industry and the provinces on the potential for setting mandatory reduction targets for pollution and greenhouse gases; and
2. those reduction targets will be intensity-based - under which circumstances you can increase the actual production of greenhouse gases immeasurably.
We're a long way from hearing anything that would do credit to the Prime Minister's record.
But Airton doesn't stop there. She goes on to call Green Party Leader Elizabeth May a liar, which is, to be fair, unparliamentary language. Erin says, for example: “In a disingenuous opinion article printed yesterday, she completely ignores the new mandatory emission standards, like those found in California.”
(Disingenuous yields three definitions in the Oxford: “having secret motives; dishonest; insincere.” May's motives are pretty clear and she seems to hold her opinions boldly and with passion, which pretty much leaves us to assume that Erin means “dishonest.”)
But why guess? Airton goes on to say: “Clever politics, Ms. May, but blatantly and purposely (sic) inaccurate. Too bad you were willing to sacrifice truth on the altar of partisan play.”
Here's this partisan thing again - like any criticism of what the “New Canadian Government does is necessarily a sneaky way to support the opposition.
Setting aside the Quixotic efforts of Ms. May's party and the New Democratic Party, the performance of Canadian politicians on this issue has been appalling. It is no credit to the Opposition Liberals that the Conservatives are trying to lower the standard.
No. No one dislikes Canadian Environment Minister Rona Ambrose because she belongs to the Conservative Party (at least, no one in this office). We dislike her because she's doing a bad job. Although, in her defence, she's reported to be doing it on the Prime Minister's orders.
So, we're trying to stay tuned, and if Prime Minister Harper breaks into the open on this issue and does something for which he truly deserves credit, we'll let you know.