Stephen Harper

What’s Stopping Canada from Putting a Price on Carbon?

For the first time in several years, carbon pricing in Canada is back on the national radar.

Recently a group of more than 60 Canadian experts published a report, Acting on Climate Change, that outlined Canada's path to a low-carbon future. Their first recommendation? Put a price on carbon. The idea seems to be gaining serious traction with Canadians, the majority of which support carbon pricing according to a recent Angus Reid poll. 

In the lead up to this month’s Premiers’ Climate Summit in Quebec City, Ontario’s premier Kathleen Wynne announced her province would join Quebec’s cap-and-trade agreement with California — putting major stock in a carbon-pricing solution to provincial emissions.

The conservative Manning Centre conference was praised for holding an “adult conversation” about carbon pricing in March just after a collaboration between oilsands majors and green groups working together for a carbon tax hit the press.

Why Don’t We Have GHG Policy for the Oilsands? Blame Stephen Harper.

This article originally appeared on the Institute for Research on Public Policy website. It is republished here with permission.

There is one person to blame for the fact that Canada, to date, does not have greenhouse gas policy for the oilsands: Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Since 2007, when what was then known as Canada’s New Government introduced the Regulatory Framework for Air Emissions, the conservative government has had a fairly consistent approach to greenhouse gas emissions policy  they’ve relied on regulations, in some cases combined with carbon pricing, as part of a sector-by-sector regulatory approach. Or rather, they’ve relied on some regulations, with the ever-present promise of more regulations to come.


Eight years after this initial plan, we seem no closer today to seeing federal policy cover the growing emissions of the oilsands, the natural gas and refining industries, or the large and growing source of greenhouse gases known as “emissions-intensive and trade-exposed sectors.”

As the prime minister’s former Director of Communications Andrew MacDougall wrote in a column about the Mike Duffy trial, “if something is essential to the government’s agenda and losing isn’t an option, the entire team puts its shoulder to the wheel until victory is achieved. If a policy isn’t critical, it can be abandoned if the going gets too tough.” Had greenhouse gas policy for the oilsands and other major emitters been seen as critical to the government’s agenda, they’d be implemented today.

As it happens, they’re not.

Canada Will Miss Its Climate Target And We’ll All Miss Out

I don’t think anyone in Canada expects our good country to meet its climate target — even with the imminent pressure of the UNFCCC meeting in Paris later this year weighing down on our collective shoulders.

We have no reason to harbour that expectation given that our own federal government via Environment Canada has been telling us for years that Canada is running off the climate track and — because of growing emissions largely from the oil and gas sector — we are getting farther and farther away from meeting our government's self-imposed climate targets.

Because of that climate failure, Canada is holding all of us back from prosperity, jobs and better health.

That’s according to a new study of benefits from international emission pledges made in the lead up to December’s UN climate summit.

Developed countries around the world — with the exception of Canada and Japan — are unveiling their individual climate plans, which are due today.

Provinces Call Environment Minister Out on Climate Consultation Claim

While the office of Canada's Environment Minister is claiming it is consulting with the provinces on a long-term climate commitment, Quebec's Minister of Environment says he hasn't heard from anyone in more than three months. 

As part of preparations for a United Nation's climate leadership summit to be held later this year in Paris, the United States is set to submit its carbon emission commitment to the UN today.

And pressure is mounting against the Harper government as it tries to explain why it is failing to meet the same agreed deadline of March 31st to submit its own set of commitments.

Leaked RCMP Report Fuels Fears Harper’s Anti-Terrorism Bill will Target Enviros, First Nations

Burnaby Mountain Protesters Face RCMP, Mark Klotz

The federal government’s anti-terrorism bill C-51 was the subject of heated parliamentary debate recently after revelations that the RCMP characterized pipeline opponents and First Nations as “violent anti-petroleum extremists” in a leaked internal intelligence report.

NDP environment critic Megan Leslie argued the leaked RCMP document, which labeled Canada’s environment movement as “a growing and violent threat to Canada’s security,” displays precisely how bill C-51 could be used to deploy anti-terrorism legislation against environmental activism deemed to be “unlawful.”

Because protests carried out without proper municipal permits can be deemed “unlawful” the proposed bill has serious implications for environmental and aboriginal groups, Leslie said.

A lot hinges on that word ‘unlawful,’ ” she said during a recent question period in parliament.

This is dangerous legislation, because if there is a wildcat strike or an occupy movement – an occupation of town property, such as the camps that we saw set up – that activity, under the eyes of CSIS or the current government, could potentially undermine the security of Canada without the right municipal permit, and it could all of a sudden be scooped up into this anti-terrorism legislation.”

Every single word here matters,” Leslie said.

Prime Minister and Allies Working to 'Neutralize' Environmental Opposition, Says Harperism Author Donald Gutstein

prime minister stephen harper, Harperism

In his recent book Harperism: How Stephen Harper and His Think Tank Colleagues have Transformed Canada, author and adjunct SFU professor Donald Gutstein outlines a battle being waged in Canada for the “climate of ideas.”

The Prime Minister is often thought of as a lone wolf, “the rogue conservative who marches to his own drummer.” But it’s not so, argues Gutstein. Harper is merely “one side of an ideological coin.”

The flipside is the network of key influencers — politicians, industry titans, think tanks, journalists — who work to advance not just Harper’s agenda, but the agenda of neoliberalism that serves powerful private interests, Gutstein says.

Dear Harper, You Know the Rules: It’s Three Strikes You’re Out

This is a guest post by Michael Harris, author of Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada's Radical Makeover. It originally appeared on iPolitics

In politics, as in baseball, the rule is simple: Three strikes and you’re out.

When Stephen Harper finally shambles towards the showers, head down, bat in hand, I’ll be thinking of Mighty Casey. For much of his career, Harper has umpired his own at-bats. But that role will soon — if briefly — fall to the people of Canada. Election Day is coming to Mudville.

Strike one against this government of oligarchs and corporate shills comes down to this: They have greedily championed oil and gas while doing nothing to protect air and water. Consider the piece of legislation with the Orwellian name — the Navigable Waters Protection Act. NDP house leader Nathan Cullen said it as well as anyone could:

It means the removal of almost every lake and river we know from the Navigable Waters Protection Act. From one day to the next, we went from 2.5 million protected lakes and rivers in Canada to 159 lakes and rivers protected.”

The Oil Shock is a Climate Opportunity and We Need to Seize it

This is a guest post by Cameron Fenton, Canadian Tar Sands Organizer with 350.org.

This week, the cover of the Economist proclaimed “the fall in the price of oil and gas provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix bad energy policies.” The article teased on the cover explains how low oil prices create the space for governments to make rapid leaps to change energy policy instead of “tinkering at the edges” urging policy makers to use this moment to “inject some coherence into the world's energy policies.”

The article gets a lot of things right. Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and forcing big polluters to pay for the mess they're making are crucial policy steps, but the piece also presents some more dubious proposals. The last paragraph of the Economist piece is the perfect example of the inherent dangers ahead.

Harper’s Delusional Hubris to Blame for Obama’s Keystone XL Veto

keystone xl harper obama veto

If revenge is indeed a dish that's best served cold, the President of Cool just served up a four-star pièce de résistance for Stephen Harper.

Tuesday's announcement of Obama's planned veto of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline should not have been surprising, yet when the blow came it carried a shocking intensity.

And how did things go so badly that Canada doesn't have the heft or goodwill in Washington to add a single pipeline to a nation benoodled with them? The answer lies in the delusional hubris of Stephen Harper.

No close watcher of the president should be surprised. In myriad ways, the prime minister's personal ambition shredded our nation's single most important relationship and drew us into the toxic swamp of Washington's poisonous politics.

It's been going on for years.

Does the Harper Government Have the Credibility to be Re-Elected?

prime minister stephen harper

This is a guest post by author and filmmaker Michael Harris. The article originally appeared on iPolitics and is republished here with permission.

From the cold porches of January, 2015 stretches out like a thousand miles of gravel road.

The country is facing an election that will be nasty, brutish and long — from now until the vote occurs, whenever that may be. The writ period is essentially meaningless. Under the Conservatives, it’s always game on.

True to his word, Stephen Harper has transformed the country, largely by stealth. Canada is now a nation that spies on its friends, guests and citizens. It accepts foreign intelligence even when there is a likelihood that it was obtained by torture. The government lies to the electorate on policy matters. It accuses veterans of exaggerating their injuries in order to take the taxpayer for a ride. It washes its hands of any stake in the fate of 1,200 missing or murdered Aboriginal women. It does not practise unite-and-lead politics, but divide-and-conquer stratagems. A government, by any democratic measure, in disgrace.

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