In Harper Budget, Big Oil Gets Subsidized While Environmental Monitoring Is Gutted

Cameron Fenton from the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition developed this helpful diagram to illustrate the dramatic way the Harper government is shifting taxpayer’s money. In the upside-down world of our current federal government, funding is slashed to programs that benefit all Canadians, like environmental monitoring. Instead, this government prefers to keep padding the pockets of their corporate pals, and to carry on a concerted campaign to turn Canada’s criminal justice system into a clone of  the dysfunctional America one by increasing spending on jails by over $500 million. This, at a time when statistics show the Canadian crime rate is dropping, and after this government cut funding to rehabilitative programs like prison farms.

Here’s Cameron’s diagram, reposted with permission. Take a good look at it, fellow Canadians. This is our future if we continue to have Harper as our Prime Minister:

Cameron put it this way in his article on Media Co-op:

In early March 2011, the federal government of Canada announced that it would be cutting over $10 billion dollars in spending in the upcoming 2011 annual budget. This includes massive cuts to environmental monitoring bodies like Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada. Also included in these cuts is a $2.6 billion cut to employment insurance recipients.

At the same time, spending for the national security apparatus is ballooning, with the military expenditures projected to cross the $20 billion mark this year. The March announcement also included a 10% increase in spending across the board for public safety departments and national security agencies, building on the $7.9 billion forecast to be spent last year. This includes a 21%, or $521.6, million increase in spending on prisons and a 14%, or $227 million, increase in spending at Canadian Border Services.

All the while, the government is also giving away $1.4 billion each year to oil and gas companies, the majority of which goes directly into the Alberta tar sands.

Check out this new video from Citizens Climate Lobby (Toronto) on the same topic:


More links:

Info-graphic: Parts per million: Big Oil Gets Subsidized While Environmental Monitoring is Gutted

Citizens Climate Lobby: Canada

Climate Action Network Canada: End Fossil Fuel Tax Breaks

Canada’s Military Spending Highest Since World War II

Conservative Budget Promotes “Head In Oil Sands” Approach to Climate Change

As the Globe and Mail’s Shawn McCarthy points out, the budget announced by Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty yesterday puts climate action on ice:

The Harper government has taken a pause in financing federal action on climate change.

In his budget speech Thursday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was literally silent on the issue – climate change was not mentioned, though the government has in the past described it as one of the major challenges of the age.

Rather than provide new spending for programs to reduce Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions, the government is standing pat as it prepares to regulate emission reductions in transportation, electricity and industrial sectors.

Graham Saul, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada responded to Flaherty’s budget as follows:

Just when we thought that it couldn’t get any worse, today’s budget is a monumental failure of this government to do what it takes to address climate change in a meaningful way.
We are falling behind in the race for the clean energy jobs of the 21st century; the U.S. continues to outspend us embarrassingly 14:1 per capita on renewable energy. We have also failed to commit to our fair share in supporting poorer countries as they adapt to climate change.

Tim Weis, Director of Renewable Energy and Efficiency Policy at the Calgary-based Pembina Institute, points out on his renewable energy blog that in this budget Canada has hit rock bottom on investments in the environment.  The resulting lag in innovation and green jobs will haunt Canada in the years to come:

Yesterday’s Speech from the Throne committed Canada to becoming a “leader in green job creation”, but today’s budget does not walk the talk. With the Federal renewable energy investment program officially out of money, this budget’s void effectively means the federal government is walking away from renewable power.  In spite of studies that have shown investments in renewable power actually generate a net financial gain for the government, it appears that this government still believes that taking action to protect the environment is at odds with building a strong economy. (In fact, Pembina’s analysis shows that we can take strong action to address climate change while growing our economy and creating nearly two million net new jobs.)

Perhaps that perception is in part why Canada ranked 14th out of 17 countries for innovation, according to a recent report card from the Conference Board of Canada. Without strong federal leadership, Canadians will continue to lag behind as other countries take the lead in the emerging clean-energy market. (The U.S., for instance, set aside $98 billion for environmental and sustainable energy projects in last year’s economic stimulus package, outspending Canada 14:1 )

It seems that Harper’s Conservatives are leading Canada on a charge to nowhere but down economically and environmentally. The writing is on the wall –  the carbon economy is the past, not the future. Former World Bank Chief Economist Lord Stern has estimated that to keep heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions below levels that would cause catastrophic climate change would cost up to two per cent of global GDP.  Lord Stern initially predicted that failure to act on climate change could cost from five to 20 per cent of global GDP, but recently revised that, saying the cost of inaction would be “50 per cent or more higher” than his previous highest estimate – meaning it could cost a third of the world’s wealth.

As scientist Richard Gammon, speaking on the steps of the U.S. Congress in 1999 said:

If you think mitigated climate change is expensive, try unmitigated.

Harper 2020. "I'm Sorry"

If you haven’t already contacted your Member of Parliament as well as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice, do so now.  Tell them it’s time for the  Conservatives to get their heads out of the oil sands and take decisive action on climate change.

Click here and here to find out what else you can do to fight climate change.

Will Conservatives Continue Their Anti-Climate Science Push As Parliament Resumes?

Canadian parliament will resume today, after an unexpected two month break brought on when Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the unprecedented move to “prorogue”, or dismiss, parliament in the middle of a session. The rather dubious reason he gave for this unscheduled holiday was that the minority government needed to “recalibrate” before introducing a new budget.

This week, therefore, one of the government’s first orders of business will be to introduce a new budget.  Those Canadians concerned about climate change will be watching carefully to see if the Harper government restores funding to The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS) that was cut in  the last Conservative budget.  CFCAS is the main funding body for university-based research on climate, atmospheric and related oceanic work in Canada.

A retired MSC scientist puts it this way:

Through the CFCAS a body of expertise and capability has been
built up which is internationally competitive but focused on issues of
importance to Canada. This expertise is presently endangered by a lack of recommitment to fund CFCAS and creating the science necessary for effective environmental policy. In my view, it is very important to support scientific research that is
independent of government in order to forestall any temptation to try to
ignore or worse suppress the scientific knowledge necessary to construct
effective policy.

As reported recently on the Can-West News Service, the result of these cuts is the demolishing of climate-related projects around the country:

The foundation’s projects at universities across the country, which are seen as key to understanding the remarkable change underway in the climate, are already being dismantled. And young scientists, trained at substantial cost to Canadian taxpayers, have begun leaving in the country in search of work.

One project is the Centre for Regional Climate Studies and Simulation, based at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, which involves about a dozen professors, 20 research assistants and 50 graduate students. The team studies interactions governing the climate and how to adapt to coming change that could transform large swaths of Canada.

The project is “about to disappear because of (the) Harper government’s indecisiveness to renew funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences,” say gradate students at the centre, which they liken to an “endangered species.”

It is jaw-dropping that a federal government of a northern nation would cut funding to climate science at this crucial time.  It makes one think that this government doesn’t like what the science is saying, and it working to ensure that Canadians are kept in the dark about it.  For more about the Harper government’s record on climate change go to my What the heck IS Canada’s policy? page.  James Hoggan, from summarizes it this way:

The Canadian government’s climate plan is pure politics – pure public relations. It’s all hot air, with no regulation or legislation to back it up. The government is not passing laws to limit greenhouse gas emissions. It is not setting science-based targets and it’s not financing renewable energy.

If you’d like to send Prime Minister Harper the message that climate science is important, click here to sign a petition being circulated by students at the University of Montreal. The english portion of the petition is underneath the french, and you need to keep scrolling past both to reach the place to sign.

For more information on CFCAS, click here to go to their website.