Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Environment, You Are The Weakest Link... Goodbye

PMSH gave what has to be the least veiled thinly veiled hint ever today that Rona Ambrose's days as Minister of the Environment are numbered. This will turn out to be a good move, I think. This portfolio is a tough one to master, and it needs a heavyweight politician.

Minister Ambrose's announcement today on biofuels is a typical case where a heavier approach is needed. Mandating bio content for diesel fuel is a subject dear to my heart and to my VW's fuel tank; 2% by 2012 doesn't seem to be trying very hard. This is ironic for a country that produces so much canola. Indeed, Europe is beginning to relax their ban on Canadian GM canola, not for their food supply, but for their biodiesel industry. We could and should be a leader in biofuels, but it needs some political muscle to make it happen. Rona Ambrose just doesn't seem to have the 'ooomph' necessary. The slightly half-hearted nature of the plans combined with a tentative delivery is making the government very vulnerable on these issues.

With a strong hitter in this portfolio, there's no reason why the government can't hold its own in any environmental debate. We're up against a man who as environment minister presided over constant increases in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, a man who can't even figure out which passports he wants to carry. As Don Martin wrote in the Southam newspapers today, Stephen Harper is betting that strong leadership will beat poll-watching - nowhere is this more true than on the environment file. But the government needs to try, and be seen to be trying, a little harder, while still avoiding the pie-in-the-sky dreamworlds of Mr. Dion and his dog Kyoto.