Thursday, 1 November 2012

Hypocricy, Cynicism and Lies Stain the Tory Record in Manitoba (Letter)

Dear Editor,

I never thought I'd say this. But I may be lucky to be living in a riding represented by a Member of Parliament on the government side, (Robert Sopuck - Dauphin/Swan River/Marquette) after all. I say this because the government Mr. Sopuck represents, under Stephen Harper, has decided the Assiniboine River, one of millions of lakes, rivers and streams in Canada, is among the very few designated as "protected" by its new, "Navigation Protection Act."  (It happens to flow through Mr. Sopuck's riding.) 
Shellmouth Dam on the Assiniboine. Could it now be harder to approve such structures in Tory ridings - but easier elsewhere? PLT photo.
The Assiniboine forms Lake of the Prairies, a popular area for cottagers and boaters, just a few clicks west of where I live. This protection means that ice-fishers, anglers and pleasure boaters will keep their historic right, which dates back to Sir John A. himself, to navigate the river without having to deal with any more bridges, mining or forestry equipment, pipelines or dams. At least, any proposed new infrastructure of this kind will need a permit from Ottawa. That apparently won't be the case for all those unprotected waterways. They, on the other hand, will be "wide open for business." 

For example, anyone living in the northern Manitoba riding of Churchill will apparently be left at the mercy of Captains of Industry who want to treat the waterways there as commodities for their own, personal gain. That's because the Churchill River is not on that "protected" list. The MP for that riding represents the Opposition NDP in parliament. Word even has it that over 90 percent of the waterways designated as "protected," fall within ridings represented by government members. I guess that'll teach us who to vote for, next time!

I speak with tongue in cheek, of course. In fact, this kind of government patronage reeks of a shoddy new low, even for the Harperites. And it once again lays threadbare the "cloak of green" Mr. Sopuck likes to put on, to cleverly disguise himself as an environmentalist.  

Also left in tatters is Harper's infamous pledge in his election victory speech, to be a leader "for all Canadians."

In fact, Mr. Sopuck is to speak tomorrow to the "Frontier Centre," where he actually used to work. It is a right-wing, climate-change-denying think-tank, currently being sued for libel by a leading U.S. climatologist. No, his scheduled topic is not,
as it should be, about that recent, enormous Hurricane, Sandy or whether climate change played a role in it. Rather, it is the "improvements" his government is making to                             (Above) A PLT creation         environmental assessments and "the need to base decisions on science."
The reality is, Ottawa is gutting those assessments to the benefit of resource exploitation, removing habitat protection from many fish species and spitting in the faces of reputable scientists everywhere. For example, it slashed funding to the Experimental Lakes Area project earlier this year. The ELA has, for years, been recognized for world-renowned, ground-breaking research on water quality.

Meanwhile, in parliament, Mr. Sopuck has, in his speeches, helped perpetuate the lie that the NDP Opposition is advocating a carbon tax to help fight climate change. It is not. Even if it were, I'd say, so what? A carbon tax makes a lot of sense. Even sectors of the oil industry seem in favour of this as an effective way to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. While I believe there would be a net benefit in turning to more alternative energy sources, surely we have to resign ourselves to paying some kind of price for a cleaner energy future.

Sadly, Mr. Sopuck's wilful mis-statements simply emphasize the fact that the Conservatives are the only party we can count on to do nothing about global warming, the most dangerous crisis facing the planet today. How many "Frankenstorms" like Sandy will we have to survive, to get him and his government to sit up and take notice?

Their fixation with investment and foreign trade deals, no matter what country we may be climbing into bed with, no matter how much sovereignty we may lose in the process, must end. 


Larry Powell
Roblin Manitoba

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