Happy New Year!
Back after a great holiday in Canmore. Skiing was good at Lake Louise and Sunshine; besides, any day in the mountains is a good day!
2011 will be a year of politics in Canada. In October there will be an election in Ontario and there’s another threat of a Federal Election this spring as Prime Minister Harper, and his conservative government, bring down a new budget. Then there is the ongoing turmoil in British Columbia with a new Leader coming in for the governing Liberal Party. These are just a few of the hot spots.
And, through it all, the environment continues to be a key player. However, the main players who are responsible for government policy and direction, in nearly every government, remain a “revolving door”.
Prime Minister Harper announced a Cabinet shuffle this morning where he named Peter Kent, an MP from the Greater Toronto Area, as the new Federal Minister of Environment. As part of the announcement the Toronto Star used this opening statement; “WHERE DID HE GO WRONG?” referring to Mr. Kent.
Here is the political reality. Peter Kent is the fifth Minister of Environment in the Harper Government in five years! Hence the Star’s headline and the inference that nobody wants the job!
In my book, TRASHED, I point out that, over a fourteen year period from 1990 to 2004, while working to develop and get Environmental Approval for the Adams Mine Landfill, I went through ten different Ministers of Environment in Ontario. I worked through the Liberals, the NDP, the Conservatives and then the Liberal government for a second time.
This represented a Minister’s average term of less than a year and a half in the portfolio – hardly time for a new Minister to find his desk let alone learn the strengths and weaknesses of the ministry staff, educate his or her own people and get a grasp on the important issues.
I recall that, in Ontario, Liberal Jim Bradley was beginning to make a positive impact and, for the Conservatives, Tony Clement would have developed effective policies if Mike Harris had left him in the portfolio for more than seven months. It did not happen.
In reality this continual “revolving door” of Environment Ministers, at all levels of government, makes it extremely difficult for business and industry to develop a dialogue, or constructive relationship, with the government in power. The politician views it is a “no-win” portfolio and he or she invariably wants out of it as soon as possible.
In all cases governments proclaim, in loud voices, that they are committed to the environment. However, they never leave a Minister in place long enough for us to have any belief in that commitment or to allow any long term policies and relationships to develop.
Maybe Peter Kent will stay longer than one year. Let’s hope so!
TRASHED! How Political Garbage Made the United States Canada’s Largest Dump