Opponents team up to attack Liberal environment policies

Carly Weeks, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Liberal party's environmental record came under fire yesterday by opposition critics who accused Prime Minister Paul Martin's government of inaction and creating deplorable climate-change policies.

"Our climate-change policies are so bankrupt and so poor that we are actually increasing our emissions at twice the rate as the Americans are," Gord Perks, a NDP candidate in the Toronto riding of Davenport, said at a debate at the Chateau Laurier hotel.

Members of the Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic, Bloc Quebecois and Green parties participated in the debate, which was organized by CPAC, Canada's parliamentary channel. Several hundred people attended.

While candidates were supposed to answer questions about their respective party's environmental policies, the debate quickly turned into a jousting match, leaving Environment Minister Stephane Dion to fend off attacks from all sides.

Mr. Perks said the Liberals have made splashy announcements regarding environmental protection, but the rules are not enforced properly and forgotten "as soon as the confetti hits the floor."

Conservative environment critic Bob Mills said the Liberals have failed to encourage companies and individuals to adopt more environmentally sound policies.

Mr. Dion shot back at the Tories, saying leader Stephen Harper's refusal to commit to the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will prove disastrous.

"This will be terrible for us. I say it will be a tragedy for the world," Mr. Dion said.

He said a critical issue for Canadians to consider when they vote Jan. 23 is where each party stands on climate change. He urged Canadians to elect a prime minister who will "be a champion of Kyoto."

He also called attention to the fact the Conservatives have said they won't, in the near future, regulate greenhouse gas emissions from large companies.

Mr. Mills said rules may one day come into effect, but it's more important to provide incentives that will encourage industries to cut emissions.

If a Conservative government is elected, its environmental strategy will focus on creating incentives as a way to cut emissions and developing new technologies, and to encourage co-operation between industries, individuals and all levels of government.

Mr. Dion said a Liberal government would focus on achieving the targets of the Kyoto protocol, as well as focusing on clean air and water and protecting Canada's nature and biodiversity.

The NDP has promised to create a clean air, water and land act and to focus on reducing the effects of climate change.