Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
Canada's economy is still relatively strong and generating surpluses, creating opportunities to invest in a green future. So what does Stephen Harper's government offer in its new budget? Toronto Star environmental commentator Tyler Hamilton has a dispassionate and unemotional view: "I think I'm going to throw up. We're screwed." He also notes: "I want to bang my head against my computer monitor, I really do, but it would be difficult to write this post with blood splatters on my screen."
All Canadians concerned about the environment would share this view of a budget that cancels incentives for buying efficient vehicles, but finds money for Atomic Energy of Canada to finish the design of a reactor that nobody wants, for a clean coal plant in Saskatchewan, and a quarter of a billion to the car companies for research research into more fuel-efficient cars, as if there has not been enough research already.
This is where the Harper government is most hypocritical. It doesn't want to provide too much help to new, emerging clean-energy technologies and companies because it believes these technologies and companies should be able to compete on their own in the marketplace. At the same time, it gives hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to the same old group of energy guys who, in most cases, aren't the ones that truly need the helping hand.
Leadership. Vision. A sense of urgency. Not here. Not from the Canadian government.