Liberal arrogance on Kyoto: Disdain for voters evident in refusal to divulge costs of accord
Friday 27 September 2002
So we are to have no comprehensive implementation plan nor honest cost accounting from Ottawa before the Chretien government charges off and ratifies the Kyoto accord.
Finally, this week, the Grits came clean. They have had five years to produce an implementation strategy. They have spent $100 million holding stakeholder meetings and consultations. But Tuesday they were finally forced to admit they've got nada, zip, zilch.
At least they've got nothing they're prepared to release to the public, or even to cabinet for that matter. We also learned this week that the devastating cost of implementing Kyoto is being hidden from the federal cabinet.
By Ottawa's own estimates, implementing Kyoto will cost the national economy $16 billion and kill 200,000 jobs by 2010. Others - sensible others, with very much better track records at doing economic projections - have pegged the cost much higher, at 450,000 jobs or more and $40 to $60 billion in lost growth.
But the Prime Minister's Office and senior Environment Canada bureaucrats won't even share their low-ball estimates with ministers. The attitude is ram it through and hope no one notices until the deal is done and it is too late to do anything. And not a single minister - not one - had the personal integrity to resign over being so deceived. They all just kept panting, and wagging, and hoping the PM would scratch them behind the ears.
Instead of an implementation plan, whenever the Liberals figure out some new tax or regulation, or invent some new subsidy to increase the use hybrid cars made of papier mache that run on rotting banana skins and distilled flatulence, or create some new federal directorate to decide which economic projects may go ahead, and which may not, they'll deign to let Canadians in on it - after the fact. Over the next 10 years. No sense admitting the unpleasant truth until after the Grit spin masters have tricked central Canadian voters into giving their party a fourth and even a fifth straight majority.
We are about to embark on the largest environmental reengineering project in our history, and the Liberals cannot even do Canadians the courtesy of producing a blueprint of how it will work or a ledger of what it will cost.
The Liberals do not think themselves accountable enough even to go to the effort of producing a phoney plan on the eve of such a major economic and cultural shift. And, believe me, there are plenty of fantastical reports around.
The Liberals could have grabbed any of the supremely sunny forecasts produced by the Suzuki Foundation or Alberta's own Pembina Institute. These organizations claim the need to completely reorder our lifestyles, forced on us by Kyoto's demand to eliminate our use of hydrocarbon fuels, will spur so much pent-up innovation we'll all get rich inventing under-the-sink composters we can sell to the Chinese, or some such.
It is standard operating procedure among Liberals, of course, not to justify themselves to anyone. They are, after all, Canada's Divine-Right-to-Govern party. God is a Liberal, and he has bestowed upon them the keys to power in perpetuity.
Besides, the Liberals have no opposition that can lay a glove on them. Not even on a tailor-made issue such as this, can the Canadian Alliance seem to get itself out of neutral, for instance. So, why should the Liberals care?
Plan? We don't need no stinkin' plan. That's their attitude.
Admittedly, any plan they produced wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on - even if it was printed on 100 per cent, post-consumer recyclable stock.
The Liberals said in 1997 that they would never sign Kyoto without the consent of the provinces. Then they went to Japan and signed it anyway. They even got so caught up in the gushy green sentiment of the moment that they upped our emission reductions beyond anything they had ever discussed with the provinces.
They then said they would never ratify without consultations with industry and the provinces. Then they went ahead and announced their plans to ratify before they had completed either.
They pledged not to ratify without an implementation strategy. They promised the world our ratification meant A, then snickeringly whispered it meant only A minus 30 per cent.
They've been dishonest, disinterested and disingenuous at every step of the Kyoto process, and are not to be trusted even if they had gone through the motions of producing an implementation strategy and an economic impact statement.
Still, it is especially galling, even by Grit standards, for them to suggest Canadians trust them when so much is at stake and they have proven themselves so untrustworthy on this file from the beginning. _________________________
Columnist, The Edmonton Journal
Editorial Board Member, The National Post
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