The two words are synonymous with any election today. It matters little if it’s municipal, provincial or federal elections. The environment is a political issue to be exploited by all politicians. If it’s a matter of votes most politicians are prepared to sell their mother or cut a tree down if it means getting elected. You never know, that one extra vote could make a difference. A politician’s position on the environment usually depends on which way the political winds are blowing, and for their sake they hope the air is not polluted.
Personally, my views regarding the environment have changed over the years. There’s was a time when environmental issues took up about a nanosecond of my conscious thought. That changed when I moved to British Columbia. I was struck by the bond between the populace of BC and their environment. At first I thought they were all crazy because in BC, Mother Nature was not to be disparaged, disrespected or disregarded, in any manner. Their affection for their environmental surrounding is genuine. Experiencing this first hand, and for the first time, I was forced to re-think my position on the environment. To be clear, I didn’t become an environmental extremist, that job is far better suited for the likes of Al Gore and David Suzuki. My thoughts on the environment are not grandiose but rather grass roots. I now understand why people in BC love their province. As long as it’s not raining they can indulge in eye candy by simply by looking outdoors. So when I lived in Vancouver I became more circumspect as it relates to the environment. My time, and specifically my friends in in BC, taught me to respect the environment. Not by preaching (okay maybe just a little bit) but by their actions.
Today I scoff at politicians and activists who think our primary mode of transportation should be bicycles. Look people, cars are not going away. I dismiss those who would suggest that we should sacrifice our standard of living; at the same time provide an economic advantage for emerging economies, by imposing carbon credits. I believe the Tories were correct to dismiss the Kyoto Protocol, and insist that if Canada is to sign on to an international agreement it has to be fair and just for all countries. I also believe we should focus on our own backyard before we tackle saving the planet. I don’t understand why I have to look for trash containers in downtown Toronto. How about adding flower pots and some flowers in the core? I could be wrong but I suspect if something looks nice people are more likely to respect their surroundings. Why aren’t fines increased to $5,000 or 500 hours of community work for anyone throwing trash out of the car window at a highway exit? Who does that? Whoever they are, they should pay. These are fundamental and foundational approaches. The talk of windmills, electric cars and alternative energy sources is nothing more than an intellectual exercise if fundamental approaches are not established and accepted.
That being said if big solutions are available, and reasonable, the government has a responsibility to support such initiatives. I came across the story on the CBC that I thought you might find interesting. The story is about electric cars, and our government’s lack of support for the manufactures of these cars. These companies are not asking the government for subsidies but rather regulatory approval. I couldn’t help but ask myself, why is this happening? Is the government trying to protect the interests of one province which has an abundance of oil and natural gas? Maybe that’s too cynical but it’s apparent that politics and the environment go together like oil and water…or a chain-saw and a tree if you will.