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As expected, still no mention of the environment in the Harper budget

Montreal, June 6, 2011 – As expected, the environment and the green economy were once again absent from the Harper government's budget, which is an almost exact copy of the one presented in March, at which time Equiterre expressed its profound disappointment with the few environmental measures contained therein.

With this budget, the Harper government confirms the end of a wide range of such popular and essential programs as those encouraging the production of renewable energy, the construction of more efficient houses and buildings, the development of clean technologies, etc. "The goal of cost reduction does not bode well for the environment – an issue that has always been considered a low priority for this government," says Steven Guilbeault, deputy executive director of Equiterre. (Remember those layoffs at Environment Canada that were announced last week?)

The only good news is that the ecoENERGY home retrofit program has been extended, but only for one year. In response to the budget last March, the Green Budget Coalition, a group representing environmental groups from across Canada, had recommended extending the program for a longer period of time. "The ecoENERGY program is a first step, but the Harper government needs to stop outdoing itself in its ability to neglect environmental issues year after year. It's time for them to make up for lost time. Many other countries have understood for several years now the need to embrace and invest in the green economy," laments Mr. Guilbeault.

The Harper government is still playing with the truth and trying to convince us that it will eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels. As Equiterre pointed out last March, if the government eliminated them at a rate of $15 million this year and $30 million the next, it would take us until 2109 to eliminate all subsidies! According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, oil companies benefit from about $1.4 billion of subsidies and tax breaks a year.

"We still can't make a direct link between extreme weather events, like the flooding in the Montérégie, and climate change. But we can say that the number of natural catastrophes are increasing, and that the costs associated with them are constantly going up. Today's announcement of federal aid for flood mitigation measures in the Montérégie could be the Harper government's way of investing, without necessarily realizing it, in an adaptation strategy for climate change," concludes Mr. Guilbeault. 



Eveline Trudel-Fugère