Reckless budget threatens health of the environment and us | Notes from the Panther Lounge | David Suzuki Foundation
Photo: Reckless budget threatens health of the environment and us

By Jeffery Young, biologist, and Tyler Bryant, energy policy analyst

As predicted, the 2012 federal budget included further cuts to core Canadian environmental programs, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada, and threats to weaken environmental laws. These cuts will push some core services to the breaking point and further unravel the safety net of laws that protect nature — and all of us.

What was also revealed in the budget was the government's clear intent to act in the service of a narrow set of major industrial interests, particularly oil and gas, while ignoring the broader economy and the enduring jobs and healthy communities that innovation could generate. This explains how in a budget full of cuts to core services, including cuts to clean tech research and development, billion-dollar subsidies to the oil and gas industry remain.

Various initiatives were also announced to make it even easier for large projects like pipelines, oil sands development, and mines to proceed with less scrutiny through reducing the review timelines to two years for environmental assessment processes, and a weakening of the role of science, First Nations, and the public in resource development decision-making.

Perhaps the most symbolic action, however, was the least fiscally important.

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The National Round Table on the Environment and Economy will immediately close its doors. With a total budget of $5 million, the financial relief to taxpayers will be small, but the cost in terms shared understanding will be big. The Round Table gathered 20 leading academics, economists, ecologists and policy-makers to consider some of the important and complex issues related to the environment and economy — and in this country there is no other body like it.

For example, it produced some of the most groundbreaking research on policy, technology and implementation pathways to economically viable low-carbon futures. Its current Climate Prosperity initiative is among the most ambitious works in the world, demonstrating that deep reductions in carbon emissions are possible without significant economic sacrifices.

Cutting the Round Table demonstrates that this government is not interested in real innovation and the contribution of scientists and economists who could help move Canada forward — improving both protection of the environment and the strength of our economy. Instead, it is willing to act recklessly, threatening the future prosperity and safety of Canadians by moving environmental protection backwards, gutting core programs and abandoning an inclusive and informed approach to resource development (in part by weakening the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act).

Check this site in the coming weeks as we report on details of the federal budget as they are tabled.

In the meantime, please take action to protect Canada's environmental laws.

March 30, 2012

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May 07, 2012
10:01 AM

I live on the shores of Lake Superior. Every year I see fewer migrating birds, not only in number but also species. I rarely hear a loon that 15 years ago were common. Song birds have diminished in number and many species have disappeared. I find more and more dead frogs and toads. We have a government who looks after big companies to come in and decimate our environment in the name of jobs. What will it take before we see short term employment is not worth the loss of our environment, our water, our land that can produce our food, and our health for generations to come? The Harper government doesn't care about us and tries to silence those that do by trying to shut down environmental agencies that speak out. Generations of Canadians died for freedom of speech and a good quality of life. Did they die in vain?

Mar 31, 2012
5:47 AM

Maybe I missed it, but what was the total cut back? Thx.

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