Week Four: Paddles, canoes and pipelines

The week in environmental coverage of the federal election brings us back to two key questions: First, what might thinking through and explicitly naming “sacrifices” lend to a discussion of balancing the environment and the economy? Second, how are pipeline politics being discussed by different regional, national, and international constituency groups?

Environment v. economy

In the name of protecting B.C. salmon last week, Stephen Harper pledged $15-million toward habitat conservation and signaled plans to partner with the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Here is the partial announcement on the Conservative party’s web site. The final paragraph on the Tory web site–“Our conservation record shows that you can protect our cherished natural environment while still growing the economy”–looks familiar four weeks into the campaign, as all the major parties have noted the economy won’t be sacrificed for environmental management and the environment won’t be sacrificed for economic development.

Last week Justin Trudeau promised a Liberal government would spend $200-million a year developing clean technologies across a number of industries, as well as money for companies to market their new clean products. Making the announcement, Trudeau said, “The environment and the economy go together like paddles and canoes. […] You just can’t get to where you’re going unless you have both of them together.”

The correlation of environmental and economic questions hints toward at least some sacrifice or negotiation between interests, however. So far, election campaigns have highlighted well what needs to be built up–new conservation efforts, new (energy) technologies, enhanced environmental legislation and oversight. But concrete indications of what may need to be given up are under-investigated.

  • A further roundup of last week’s environmental announcements can be found here: “Leaders turn campaigns toward the environment.”
  • Jeff Rubin, an author and former chief economist at CIBC World Markets, and David Suzuki show here how the economy and environment are already tied together, highlighting costs of climate change to Canada’s agricultural, tourism, forestry, and other sectors. They conclude:

Mr. Harper’s carbon-fuelled energy agenda hasn’t worked out, and that’s put the Canadian economy in precarious shape. But this critical moment of economic and environmental crisis is an opportunity for Canada to confront the reality, costs and urgency of climate change, and find solutions that will both reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and contribute to the economy. This is a challenge that every party in the current campaign should address.

Line 9, Energy East, and Keystone XL pipeline updates

Harper’s re-election would mean several things, perhaps most importantly that oil and gas exploration and pipeline development in Western Canada would remain on course. His re-election would also give him another term to push for Keystone XL, while moving the Energy East, Trans Mountain, Line 9 and Northern Gateway pipelines through the remaining regulatory channels. Another mandate would also allow him to bolster resource development in the Arctic. […] Harper will likely never introduce a carbon tax, and Conservative policy documents states the party believes tax incentives would improve energy efficiency for a cleaner environment.

Whereas the writer emphasizes, in the above excerpt, Harper’s steady hand, on Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau, themes of uncertainty for industry emerge:

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair would bring a complete redesign to energy policy in Canada. He opposes Northern Gateway, has not taken a firm position on Keystone XL, but appears willing to support Energy East running from Alberta to Atlantic Canada. […] The young son of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Justin Trudeau has already pledged to kill Northern Gateway, while throwing his support behind Keystone and Trans Mountain. He has yet made a public stand on Energy East.

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