Canada’s Federal Government Slashes Environmental Spending, But Keeps Subsidies to Big Oil

The Harper Conservatives have racked up a mighty deficit.  When they came into power, the outgoing Liberal government  handed them a $12 Billion surplus. The financial crisis is only partly to blame for the huge shortfall, however much the Conservatives would like to lay all the blame on its doorstep. But the fact is, in 2011, after five years of Conservative government, we are in a fiscal mess.  And the looming budget, expected in on March 22, will see some belt-tightening measures.  It won’t be Big Oil and Gas who will be cinching up their girths, despite the fact that Canadian taxpayers subsidize the richest industry in the world to the tune of $1.4 Billion a year. Instead, the government is targeting programs that address climate change and air pollution.  Those programs are being cut to the tune of $1.6 Billion dollars a year, according to numbers released yesterday by the Treasury Board.

Those Canadians who didn’t realize before where this government’s allegiance lies, can see it clearly now; when the choice is between our children’s future and fattening the already stuffed wallets of corporate elites, the Harper Conservatives chose the latter.  Our children will just have to wait.

Take Action Now:

Please call the Prime Minister asking why he would rather cut $1.6 billion in environmental services and not the billion + dollars in subsidies to fossil fuel companies:  (866) 599-4999. As of yesterday,  civil service employees are answering the phones,  and they are not saying this is the Prime Minister’s office, but state CLEARLY that you wish to speak to the Prime Minister. You will most likely be sent to a machine to leave a message but PERSIST! It is vitally important that Canadians make their voices HEARD.

Also, call your Member of Parliament, and let them know you are not willing to sacrifice the future health and prosperity of Canadians while the fossil fuel industry gets richer and richer. Better yet, call them and make an appointment to meet with them – and bring some friends along!  If they’re Conservative, ask them why the fossil fuel industry’s subsidies continue while environmental programs are slashed. If they are in opposition, get their assurance that they will fight to end the subsidies to Big Oil and Gas.

Click here for contact info on Members of Parliament.

More links:

Federal Government to cut Environment Spending

Climate Action Network Canada – End Fossil Fuel Tax Breaks


The World’s Experiment With Catastrophic Climate Change Continues

Russia, August 5:

Forest and peat bog fires have burned hundreds of homes, leaving thousands homeless in the hottest summer since records began 130 years ago, prompting leaders to declare a state of emergency in seven of the worst-hit regions.(Reuters)

As of July 30, the wildfires had scorched more than 25 million acres of grain – what Time Magazine reported as an area equivalent in size to the state of Kentucky. The fires, extreme heat and widespread drought have affected food prices throughout Russia,  prompting the government to ban grain exports and declare a state of emergency in many parts of the country. Smoke from the fires has blanketed Moscow and other cities with a thick, toxic soup, causing some foreign diplomats to leave the country. The soil moisture in some portions of the country has dropped to levels one would expect only once every 500 years.

Recently Russian President Medvedev clearly drew the line between the extreme conditions Russia is experiencing this summer and climate change:

“What’s happening with the planet’s climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us, meaning all heads of state, all heads of social organizations, in order to take a more energetic approach to countering the global changes to the climate.”

This is the same leader who, two months after Copenhagen, called the global-warming debate “some kind of tricky campaign made up by some commercial structures to promote their business projects.” Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia commented on Medvedev’s dramatic change of heart:

“You don’t just throw comments like that around when you are the leader of the nation, and if you look at what is happening with this heat wave, it’s horrible. It’s clearly enough to shake people out of their delusions about global warming.”

Go to this link to view a dramatic video of people fleeing a Russian village over a road that’s on fire.

Pakistan, August 8:

Officials estimate that as many as 13 million people have been affected by the worst flooding in the country’s 63-year history. About 1,500 people have died, most of them in the north-west, the hardest-hit region.

These two unfolding disasters, involving excessive fire and water, are  related to the extreme climate conditions that scientists project will become more frequent in a heating world. Are we ready yet to start addressing our part in the warming of the atmosphere? What will it take for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to change his mind on global warming? In the past, he called the Kyoto Protocol “a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations“. This summer, more than 100 communities in Saskatchewan declared a state of emergency after severe weather events. Provincial Fire Commissioner and Director of Public Safety recently said:

…while there have been forest fires and flooding in other years, 2010 is seeing an unprecedented number of events.

“When you start adding up all the events and the compressed time … this is remarkable,” he said.
2009 was a record summer for British Columbia fires. The British Columbia government spent over $400 million dollars fighting these forest fires and more than 2,105 square kilometers (210,579) of forests were burned.

It’s clear that the dangers of global warming that scientists have been warning us about are here now. We do not need to wait until the end of this century to experience climate driven catastrophes. Don’t wait for our leaders to take action – 350.org is calling for a people-powered movement to start pressing for change that can’t be ignored. What will you tell your children and grandchildren 20 years from now when they ask you what you did to help avert this disaster? Check out Bill McKibbon’s recent blog: We’re Hot As Hell and We’re Not Going to Take it Anymore: Three Steps to Establish A Politics of Global Warming.

More links:

Russia is Burning! Climate Deniers Silent, US Media Totally Useless

Fire And Water On a Hot Turbulent Planet

Foreign Diplomats Leave Moscow Amid Fire and Smog