Rona Ambrose is taking hair-splitting and grammatical tricks to the extreme. Without having seen her new environmental “plan” or “approach”, it is hard to tell exactly why, although I will admit to having a little sick-to-my-stomach feeling. As noted in several places (here for instance) part of the watering down consists of an emphatic change in terminology from “plan” to “approach”, the former being a series of programmed steps toward a defined goal and the latter being somewhat fuzzier. In addition, today we have Rona Ambrose trying to cozy up to Kyoto just a little:
Our government has never stated that we would abandon Kyoto, never stated that we will not participate in the Kyoto Protocol process. What we have stated is that we need new targets
You see, we’re not big, evil industrial meanies; we would just love to meet the Kyoto committments, but it’s just so gosh darn hard now that we’re just going to have to lower the bar a little bit. It’s too bad the climate, that bitch, won’t cooperate. You see, we will participate in the process, but we aren’t really committed.
To head off the argument, yes I know the Liberals did precious little when they were in power, which was part of the reason I did not vote for them. However, it does not mean a stalling tactic is going to get us anywhere, and the Conservatives generally, and Ambrose in particular, have done nothing to indicate that they are doing anything but stalling. It is indeed noteworthy that Ambrose was not even on hand to comment on the release of the Environment Commissioner’s report last week and in fact has not cared to address one of it’s central findings that the current government continues to fail to confront the issue. A failure to confront a failure to confront is a real failure to confront.
I suspect the resonance of environmental issues with the Canadian public surprises the Harper government; after all, we meekly accepted Liberal near-inaction for a decade. However, things look like they have changed. Whatever brought on the current traction the issues have, whether it’s Al Gore, or the public aknowledgement that we are might be forced to renege on an international deal (Kyoto), or a suddenly more effective opposition that sees an issue they can beat over the government’s head, the Conservatives have to deal with this, and they have to do so decisively. Unfortunately for them, the current PM’s predilection for doing everything himself and using his ministers as meat puppets means that everything gets done more slowly, and time really is of the essence. And in the meantime, there’s poor Rona without a script, trying to buy time, come up with a plan, approach, intention, or policy (fuck, where’s my thesaurus?), and at the same time not get in trouble from Big Boss Man, looking like a complete idiot.
If this issue is still hot when the Liberals choose their leader in December and that leader produces a coherent platform with environmental concerns at the centre, then the Tories might well find this to be the issue that brings them down. I don’t know whether there is anyone in that Liberal bunch that can come up with a real plan, but it appears that Canadians want a government that is committed to the environment, not one that is simply participating in the process. Like the proverbial bacon-and-egg breakfast I hear about business seminars – the chicken is participating in breakfast, the pig is committed.
And the current lot looks like a bunch of chickens. Liberals take heed.