Vote for Clean Energy

I’d like everyone to look into the Vote for Clean Energy campaign.   The energy issue is strangely missing from most of the dialogue in this election.   Actually, it feels surreal when I see that Dalton McGuinty has somehow managed to take the moral high ground by arguing that only Catholics deserve special treatment in school funding.

Whereas the Province intends to spend over $100 billion dollars rebuilding our nuclear fleet, expensive natural gas plants and associated transmission lines and nobody says a word.   I believe this is the single most expensive plan the Province has ever tabled.   If implemented it will have profound influences on the way we live for decades to come.   There is no Environmental Assessment, no meaningful public consultation and the plan doesn’t even attempt to meet any emissions targets.   It certainly won’t meet Kyoto levels in the foreseeable future.   We’re about to be hammered with this, and we seem to be in a daze, staring off in the opposite direction.

The Vote for Clean Energy campaign calls for a quick closure of coal plants and a nuclear phase-out, with massively increased investment in conservation and generation from renewables.   A detailed plan prepared by WWF and the Pembina Institute and fully costed is available, called “Renewable is Doable”.   It demonstrates that a focus on conservation and renewables is both cheaper and more reliable than the government plan.   Although it’s a non-partisan campaign, it should be no surprise that on these criteria the Green Party comes out at the top.   Indeed, our targets in some ways exceed theirs.

But really there are only two parties in the running here — the NDP and Greens.   Both the McGuinty Liberals, who plan to spend an estimated $43 billion on rebuilding nuclear and the Tory Conservatives, who think that isn’t quite enough, are clearly not going to win a lot of points with this campaign.

Recently Paul Charbonneau, who ran for the Greens provincially in the 2006 byelection and has since left for the Liberals, asked me if I would consider working with the Liberals like Elizabeth is working with Dion.   I suggested to him that I would be happy to work with the Liberals if they showed any commitment at all to working within a sane environmental framework.   The best that I could come up with is praise for their initiative supporting independent renewables development, the Standard Offer Contract program.  Beyond that, their addiction to coal and love affair with nuclear makes them a very toxic party.

This is very different from the personal relationship with Stephane Dion, who as an individual and leader appears to be committed to real progress on reducing emissions, quite unlike any other leader we’ve ever had at any level.   I’m quite certain that Mr. Dion’s efforts won’t match those of a Green government, but neither will they be completely ineffective, and that’s important.   He is a man we can work with.   So is Jack Layton, come to think of it.   Mr. McGuinty is not.   A $100 billion fossil/nuclear plan is fundamentally anti-Green, and despite the bizarre election rhetoric, that will be Mr. McGuinty’s biggest legacy.

At the provincial level, the closest thing we’ve got to a potential ally is the NDP.  Our local MPP, Peter Tabuns, introduced a measure pressuring the Liberal government of the Province to meet Kyoto objectives.   They share similar targets with us.   But they do frustrating things like offering bailouts to automakers, insisting on cheap energy and promoting northern development.   Even they need to be nudged in the right direction.

Energy should be the defining issue of this election.   We cannot afford to ignore it.

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